Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) and House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) issued a memo last week updating their colleagues on steps they are taking to ensure proper workplace behavior in the Capitol.
"We are aware that speaking up about inappropriate behavior can be intimidating," the June 4 memo says. "We hope to break down the barriers to reporting and empower anyone who experiences or sees harassment to report it."
Accompanying the memo was written guidance from Jeff Burgess, a training and development specialist from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.
The Capitol sexual harassment scandal that led to the resignation of state Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg) earlier this year fell into an all-too-common category of men harassing women. But Burgess listed a number of other classes of people who are legally protected from workplace discrimination.
"Many people are under the mistaken belief that only sexual harassment is against the law," Burgess wrote. "They read the salacious headlines, and because of sexual intrigue these cases get much of the attention, but harassment cases can arise in many other areas."
A couple of those areas might come as a surprise.
"Oregon law provides several additional protected categories, such as sexual orientation and gender identity, marital status, family relationship, injured workers, credit history and victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and criminal harassment," Burgess continued. "People who file a lawsuit, testify in civil or criminal cases, report criminal activity, people who lawfully use tobacco products during off-duty hours, those who oppose unsafe or unhealthy working conditions or who report healthcare violations are also protected."
The Oregon Law Commission is currently working to modernize the Legislature's rules regarding workplace behavior.
The commission will hold its next public meeting on the issue on June 19 at 10 am at the Oregon Civic Justice Center (790 State Street) in Salem.