House Committee: Lawmakers Could Investigate Sexual Harassment Claims

Jan 10, 2019

A top policy expert says the proposed Indiana House rules to govern sexual harassment by lawmakers are comprehensive.

Labor and employment attorney Susan McCaffery Zoeller has been advising lawmakers on their development of a sexual harassment policy.

She says the rules the House Ethics Committee is debating follow best practices.

“As far as the scope of this, I think it’s very extensive,” Zoeller says.

The policy would require the House Ethics Committee – made up of three Republican and three Democratic lawmakers – to investigate any sexual harassment claims against fellow legislators.

But Common Cause Indiana leader Julia Vaughn sees a flaw in that model.

“The internal nature of this process is not open and transparent enough to give the public faith in the process,” Vaughn says.

The House policy – like its Senate counterpart – would bar any sexual contact between lawmakers and interns, even if it were consensual.

The House Ethics Committee must vote on the proposed rules before the full chamber can approve them.