SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California lawmakers addressed sexual misconduct at the legislature for the first time Tuesday.
It was the first of several hearings on harassment since hundreds of staffers, lobbyists, and interns came forward about harassment in state politics, following allegations of sexual assault in Hollywood.
The Assembly Rules Subcommittee on Harassment heard from some of the victims who signed a published letter exposing sexual assault, last month.
They say they want to see laws that protect victims and whistleblowers, so they aren’t fired for speaking out.
Human Resources administrators testified that the legislature has a zero-tolerance policy on reporting harassment.
Yet, not all complaints are investigated. And they said it’s unclear what constitutes a sexual harassment violation.
One woman shared her graphic story. She said four years ago she filed a complaint with the Human Resources Department after a legislator exposed himself to her when she went to his apartment for a work-related matter.
A few months later, she lost her job.
She says it was to keep her quiet and protect the lawmaker.
“He was not dressed from waist up when he came out of the apartment attempting to put pants on unzipped. I reported it to the chief but asked her not to tell anyone,” said former legislative director Nancy Finnigan.
Now that she no longer works at the legislature she says she’d like to make sure lawmakers are screened in a way before they’re elected.
“I’d like a code of conduct to be discussed. A lot of times when people come in become members they don’t have expectations of how to behave, and I think they should have before the primary process,” she said.
The women coming forward are still not naming names.
But many lawmakers encourage them too.
After all, they say, the hearing came just a day after one legislator announced his resignation and another was stripped of key leadership positions by his colleagues.