Friday, April 2, 2010

Sexual harassment allegation a wake up call

Posted By on Fri, Apr 2, 2010 at 10:32 AM

There may be a woman investigating the sexual harassment claim against a Charlotte City Council member, but a local women’s rights activist is shocked that such an investigation is needed.

Not at the sexual harassment allegation itself, but Charlotte’s National Organization of Women coordinator Cindy Thomson said she’s surprised that the city didn’t have a policy dealing with sexual harassment and elected officials.

“This is a real wake up call for all boards and any body that has any sort of power over other people,” she said. “There should be some sort of policy in place. They sign confidentiality policies on many boards, but not anything about sexual harassment.”

Since March 14, when Mayor Anthony Foxx sent an e-mail to city council members reminding then not to sexually harass staff members, questions and accusations have flown through the council chambers.

According to a Charlotte Observer report on March 24, Warren Turner, who represents west Charlotte, is the councilmember who was accused of harassment. Turner denied any wrong doing.

The complainant hasn’t been named publicly and Thomson said in cases like this, the victim’s privacy has to be protected.

“We need to think of that individual and what she needs,” Thomson said. “It’s a legal issue and it has to be resolved.”

And she added that a clear policy about sexual harassment dealing with public officials should have been put in place years ago.

“When someone on a board signs something agreeing to or not to do something it drives it home a little better and makes it clear what is appropriate and what’s not. It is surprising that our city council did not have a policy in place. I know that the city has a [sexual harassment] policy. I would imagine that this individual who is charging sexual harassment couldn’t file anything because there wasn’t a policy in place. A person with power over another person, there has to be some sort of recourse.”

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