With the list of casualties stemming from the #MeToo movement seemingly growing by the day, the City of Long Beach is scheduled to examine its harassment policies, and potentially amend its policy after a presentation from the city manager’s office.
The item is being brought forward during tomorrow’s city council meeting by a quartet of council members who are asking the city manager to provide an overview of the city’s current policies and a breakdown of complaints received over the past five years.
Eighth District Councilman Al Austin, the author of the item, said the item is a good government measure and a way to ensure that the city’s house is in order in this time of mounting sexual misconduct allegations that have swept the country.
There’s a lot of emphasis on sexual harassment, especially in the workplace and I want to take a look,” Austin said. “I think it’s timely that we evaluate our policy and have a discussion about it at the city council and if there is a will to make changes or to really look at where we are I think we need to do that.”
Austin said he doesn’t have any expectations for what the presentation will reveal Tuesday night but added that it’s the council’s responsibility to make sure the policy is strong and that it’s working correctly. The item is being co-sponsored by council members Stacy Mungo, Suzie Price and Daryl Supernaw.
The city’s current policy includes both the city department where the victim logs the complaint and the Equal Employment Opportunity Office, which serves as a neutral party, conducting separate investigations when a claim is made. Employees filing complaints also have the option to branch out to other agencies like the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Employees are allowed to work toward resolutions for their claims during normal working hours and have an opportunity to suggest possible resolutions to their situations as outlined in the document.
Price said that while the recent focus has been on sexual harassment and assaults, that it’s important that the city’s policy continue to protect every group of people from all forms of harassment and discrimination.
“It’s simply not appropriate and the city should be recognizing that and sending a very strong signal to all staff and city management that such behavior will not be tolerated,” Price said.
She added that she’s never personally been a victim of harassment while employed by the city and that she expects the city manager’s report will show that the city is exercising all best practices to ensure that a culture that is non-accepting of harassment is fostered in Long Beach.
“I think the city’s current policy is consistent with that of most employers,” Price said. “I would like to see us add other types of behavior that create an uncomfortable working environment such as bullying and public shaming of employees who do speak out about inappropriate activity. I’m not sure what that wording would look like, specifically, but I definitely hope that we include that in the discussion.”
The council will discuss the item at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday December 12 at 5:00PM inside city hall.