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L.A. County leaders review sexual harassment policies

L.A. County leaders review sexual harassment policies
Los Angeles supervisors Hilda Solis, Janice Hahn, Kathryn Barger and Sheila Kuehl after Barger was sworn in to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 2016. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Amid the wave of sexual harassment complaints lodged against elected officials and other high-profile figures, Los Angeles County supervisors on Tuesday tinkered with what they said is already an effective program for handling such allegations for the 110,000-person workforce.

After hearing a report on how the program is run, supervisors recommended the county make the online link employees can use to file complaints easier to find.

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They also called for an evaluation of the effectiveness of sexual harassment training for new employees, and a survey of employees who filed complaints to gauge their thoughts on the process.

“We have a great policy, but it can be better. In light of what’s happening across the country, we want to make sure women don’t have to wait 30 years before they feel comfortable in filing a complaint,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Employees can choose to file reports online, in person, over the phone or anonymously.

The county has a stricter interpretation of what is considered inappropriate conduct toward others than the state or federal government, officials said.

“Inappropriate remarks, like a sexual joke that may not rise to sexual harassment, would be a violation,” said Vickey Bane, executive director of the county's Equity Oversight Panel, who added that the numerous options for filing complaints helps foster “positive culture change,” and a “forum to air complaints.”

Supervisors said they will soon ask county officials to provide data showing how complaints were resolved.

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