‘Zero tolerance for sexual harassment’
11/24/2017, 2:45 p.m.
Editor’s note: This letter was sent last week by the Virginia Speaker of the House designee to the Capitol Square community.
We have all been dismayed by the disturbing instances of sexual harassment that have surfaced in recent weeks. In light of reports of a similar pervasive and systemic problem in and around state legislatures throughout the country, I want to reiterate clearly and unequivocally that the Virginia House of Delegates has zero tolerance for sexual harassment or abuse of any kind.
We are privileged to have many colleagues, staff, lobbyists, support personnel, interns and citizen advocates who work on Capitol Square every day to improve our Commonwealth. We all have a responsibility to maintain a working atmosphere that mutually respects the input of everyone. Any and all behavior that demoralizes, belittles or disrespects any colleague is wrong and will not be tolerated.
The Virginia Department of Human Resources and the House of Delegates have robust policies on prohibited behavior. These policies are available on the House’s internal intranet. Further, they can be found in the state employee handbook. This information is shared and accessible online at www.dhrm.virginia.gov/hrpolicies.
Similarly, there are appropriate avenues by which a person can report instances of harassment. Questions or concerns should be directed to the Clerk of the House or the House’s Human Resources Director.
However, we must go a step further than promulgating written policy. Collectively, we, as legislators, parents, community leaders and colleagues, must be an example for the Commonwealth by maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for all Virginians.
We cannot ignore the fact that women are disproportionately victims of sexual harassment and abuse. We all recognize that women are an equal and integral part of our legislative dialogue, and I feel confident we all would like to see more women in government and the public policy arena. We can empower women and encourage their continued involvement by ensuring our workplace is respectful and actively rejects any unwanted behavior, guaranteeing that everyone who steps foot on Capitol Square will be treated with the dignity and respect he or she deserves.
Our responsibility to that goal is mutual, and requires a collective effort. I am proud to serve with all of you and know that Virginia can and will continue to be an example to the nation.
DELEGATE KIRK COX