Only about 30% surveyed agree workplace harassment issues at Maryland legislature resolved fairly, quickly
Brian Witte, The Baltimore Sun
A first-of-its kind workplace climate survey in Maryland’s legislature found a high level of awareness about policies regarding harassment and discrimination and how to report it, but less confidence in how complaints are resolved and whether they result in fair outcomes, the survey released Friday said.
The survey included lawmakers in both the House and Senate, as well as staff members, employees at the Department of Legislative Services and lobbyists.
"A large majority of survey participants indicated that they rarely observe discriminatory or harassing behavior," the report said. "However, they did report less firm confidence in the procedure and processes surrounding harassment reporting and resolution, and whether harassment is a problem in the (Maryland General Assembly) environment."
For example, only about 30% of respondents answered favorably to the question of whether they believed workplace harassment issues are resolved fairly and quickly. About 61% of respondents had a neutral response to the question, and 9% had an unfavorable response.
The online anonymous survey was conducted in the middle of the last legislative session during a three-week period. More than 500 people participated.
Separately, the General Assembly’s human resources manager received four complaints against Maryland state lawmakers last year, including one for sexual harassment. The report to the Legislative Policy Committee said two complaints were related to discrimination and another related to someone unhappy with working conditions.
Of the four cases, one led to counseling, another was forwarded to the legislature's ethics committee and one was referred for criminal investigation, the report said. Two cases also led to action taken by lawmakers.
No complaints were filed against employees of the General Assembly or the Department of Legislative Services.
The report covers the period between December 2018 and December 2019.
It’s the second time the report on the number of complaints has been released. In the report released in late 2018, 11 sexual harassment complaints were reportedly made against legislators.
The reports don’t name the lawmakers. They also don’t specify if multiple complaints were made against any lawmaker.
The panel decided in 2017 to compile the first report after a wave of allegations against prominent political, entertainment and media figures across the country, as well as in the wake of sexual misconduct concerns in statehouses.