There should be no romance or sex between supervisors and DC employees
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed an executive order that aims to crack down on sexual harassment in District agencies.
The 24-page order explicitly prohibits sexual and romantic relationships between supervisors and employees in their chain of command. Bowser administration officials said Tuesday that each agency will define what the chain of command will look like.
The updated policy also directs an anti-sexual harassment task force to review current policies and procedures and make additional recommendations to help create an environment free of harassment.
In an unrelated event Tuesday afternoon, Bowser said the order is a step toward D.C.'s goal of having a workforce free of sexual harassment.
"We're going to make the policies as clear as possible, so people can follow them," Bowser said. “And at the end of the day, people have to do the right thing. And if they don't, there will be consequences."
Employees will also have to receive sexual harassment training annually, under the updated policy, as opposed to every two years, which is the current model. The order prohibits supervisors from having sexual relations with any employee in their chain of command, “whether direct, indirect, operational or situational,” the order said.
The updated policy only applies to romantic relationships between supervisors and workers in their chain of command, and not to relationships generally across the D.C. government.
To comply with the order, heads of D.C. government agencies must designate a person or committee to resolve labor relations issues by Nov. 17.
And by December 8, existing relationships that fall within the categories prohibited by the executive order must be disclosed to the appropriate person.
Anyone who has a relationship prohibited by the updated policy can find a new position where the relationship is not affected by the policy or change the reporting structure, depending on the policy.
The impact of the updated policy won't be clear until revelations start coming in, Bowser administration officials said.
The executive order also directs the Office of Inspector General to evaluate the credibility of a sexual harassment allegation, officials said. Previously, the accusation was passed to the Mayor's Legal Department.
The order does not apply to the D.C. Council, Neighborhood Advisory Commissions, or D.C. courts.
The updated order comes months after John Falcicchio, former deputy mayor for planning and economic development and one of Bowser's top confidants, abruptly resign .
The mayor's office subsequently launched two investigations into allegations of sexual harassment, which corroborated many of the allegations against him. Subsequently, a Washington Post report revealed more details from one of the women who accused Falcicchio of harassment.
"We applaud the District of Columbia's revisions to its sexual harassment policy," attorneys Debra S. Katz and Kayla Morin said in a statement. They represent two employees who said Falcicchio sexually harassed them.
Katz and Morin said the order was “a direct result of the tremendous bravery and persistence of our clients, who came forward to report sexual harassment by former Vice Mayor John Falcicchio.”
The executive order reviews the 2017 sexual harassment policy which says that “sexual or romantic relationships between employees and supervisors in the employee's chain of command are strongly discouraged.”
The order defines 14 things that can contribute to or constitute sexual harassment, such as sexual acts, sexually offensive comments or off-color jokes, sexting and making inquiries about someone's sex life, among others.
In an interview, District 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau said the updated policy seems like a positive step. Nadeau was among lawmakers who called for an independent investigation into the allegations against Falcicchio earlier this year.
"The idea that we haven't had a definition, or rules about other consensual relationships, or relationships within the chain of command, has obviously created problems within our government," Nadeau said. “And this would solve that. Overall, it seems like there have been a lot of positive changes here.”
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