'Taking A Hard Look' At Louisiana Sexual Harassment Policies

Feb 19, 2018

The Senate Committee on Women and Children is taking a hard look at how the state handles sexual harassment. Sen. Regina Barrow says when it comes to training, there's no set standard.

That leaves Sen. Barrow (D-Baton Rouge), chair of the committee, questioning "the types of training being provided; when the training is being provided; who is actually taking the training?"

The type of sexual harassment training state employees receive is up to the agency they work for. And there is no statewide sexual harassment policy in Louisiana either — that's left to each agency as well. Barrow says that's something she wants to address in the upcoming March legislative session. 

The Senate Select Committee on Women and Children, chaired by Sen. Regina Barrow (D-Baton Rouge), met Feb. 16, to discuss sexual harassment policies in Louisiana.
Credit Wallis Watkins

"I think that may be our first approach in terms of insuring that there is some way to captivate who is actually taking the test and which test they are taking," she says.

In 2012, the Legislature passed a concurrent resolution directing agencies to train their employees on sexual harassment. Even though both the House and Senate passed the measure, a concurrent resolution doesn't hold the force of law. It's more like a strong suggestion.

"I want to have all those agencies actually present so they can tell me how their process works and how they insure that all their employees are taking and participating in this training," explains Barrow.

And she says there’s a lot of employees to consider — over 60,000, and more than half are women.

Meanwhile, two other internal reviews of the state's sexual harassment policies are underway. This follows a wave of sexual harassment allegations across the country, including Louisiana. According to the Division of Administration, the state has paid nearly $4 million to settle sexual harassment claims since 2004.