Mayor Marion Barry yesterday established a system within the District of Columbia government to ferret out instances of alleged sexual harassment on the job and issued an executive order making such conduct a violation of city laws and regulations.
Barry set no explicit penalties for violations of the executive order. Barry limited his definition of sexual harassment to conduct that would directly affect employment or promotion.
"It's very difficult for government to monitor each and every action of every individual person," Barry said. "It's difficult to figure out how government ought to go in the interpersonal relations of individual persons."
Barry said the penalties for violations of his order could include reprimands or dismissals. "This is a very serious matter. This is not to be taken lightly," Barry said.
Yesterday's announcement came in response to a report from five-member task force set up shortly before George R. Harrod, then director of the D.C. Office of Personnel, was indicted in D.C. Superior Court for allegedly assaulting a female staff aide. The woman contended she was trying to end a sexual relationship with Harrod. Harrod, who is on leave from his job, has denied he assaulted the woman.
About three weeks after Harrod's April 4 indictment, a U.S. District Court judge found that D.C. Corrections Director Delbert Jackson and three other correction officials made "improper sexual advances" toward a woman employe. The court, however, rejected the woman's argument that she was denied job promotions because she turned down the advances.
After the Jackson decision, Barry announced that his administration "will not tolerate the feeling that sexual harrassment and sexual abuse" exist within the city government. Yesterday's announcement. Yesterday's announcement outlined the procedures by which the mayor plans to carry out that promise.
Barryhs order establishes a special section in the city's Office of Human Rights to handle complaints under conditions of strict confidentiality. Complaints may be filed within one year of the alleged instance of harassment.
Barry's order classifies sexual harrassment as "sexual discrimination," which is prohibited by city personnel regulations and the District's human rights law.
After investigations, the human rights office will make any recommendations for action to the city's personnel office. In addition, each agency of city government must, within the next two months, develop its own plan to end sexual harassment on the job.
The task force, headed by acting D.C. Corporation Counsel Judith W. Rogers, did not investigate any individual instances of alleged sexual abuse, Barry said.Nor did it make an effort to determine how sidespread such conduct may be in city government.
"It's perceived by a number of people . . . particularly females . . . to be widespread," Barry said. "But we don't have any concrete evidence of it."
Barry said the system established yesterday should help gauge the extent of the problem. "I suspect that we're not gonna have thousands of people coming in," he said.
Barry declined to say, when asked yesterday, if he would take any action as a result of the court ruling in the Jackson case. The task force made recommendations in the case, Barry said, but he declined to say what those recommendations were.
Barry also said yesterday that investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor were on hand this week probing reported allegations that some employes in the District's federally funded Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) program had been sexually harassed.