Calling recent claims of sexual harassment here in Florida and across the U.S. “absolutely disgusting,” Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order that he says will increase reporting, investigating and training to protect state employees who are victims of sexual harassment at executive state agencies.
“Everyone deserves to work in an environment that is safe and free from any form of harassment,” Scott said in announcing the order. “We cannot tolerate sexual harassment at all in Florida, and today’s executive order protects state employees by directing how agencies report, investigate and train against sexual harassment in the workplace.”
The order calls for all new employees of executive agencies to receive training addressing sexual harassment within 30 days of being hired. Agencies will be responsible for providing additional sexual harassment training to all employees in management and supervisory positions.
Scott’s order also spells out how agencies should handle the investigation and resolution of sexual harassment cases. Agencies are directed to appoint one or more persons to receive complaints, including an agency’s human resources director and general counsel. A department employee designated to receive complaints can not be an employees direct supervisor.
Agencies that receive a sexual harassment complaint are to conduct a prompt investigation ensuring that the identity of the person making the allegation is protected. Every effort is to be made to eliminate future contact between the person making the complaint and the person the complaint has been filed against.
The order requires that once a complaint is filed and the investigation completed, the agency will confer with the person making the complaint to review the steps taken by the agency and determine if the alleged victim needs any additional assistance.
Scott says the executive order is intended to supplement state and federal laws relating to sexual harassment and not meant to supersede such laws.
The governor encourages all other state agencies not under his direct authority to enact similar procedures for dealing with sexual harassment and misconduct.
“In Florida, we stand with victims and against those who mistreat others. Today, I call on every level of government to follow our lead and adopt these standards,” Scott said.
The governor’s executive order comes in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations made anonymously by six women alleging state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, made lewd comments to them and/or touched them inappropriately.
One of the women, Rachel Perrin Rogers, filed a formal complaint with the Senate Rules Committee. She went public with her identity and allegations two weeks ago after accusing Latvala and his attorneys of outing and intimidating her.
The Senate has appointed a special counsel to review the allegations made by the women and a special master to investigate the case involving Perrin Rogers. The special master’s report could be completed as early as this week.