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Iowa's new rules against sexual harassment may help workers, but will they keep the public in th

Iowa lawmakers on Thursday hurriedly approved new rules against sexual harassment that could make it much harder for the public to find out about cases of alleged misconduct.

The lawmakers — six Republicans and four Democrats — voted unanimously to approve the rules despite testimony from group representatives who complained that the process was rushed.

Indeed, the rules, proposed by the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, were not readily available online before the vote. The agency handles human resources issues for state government workers.

The rules do not apply to lawmakers or their legislative staff members, who have themselves been the subject of recent allegations of sexual misconduct.

“Why the rush? Because this is an important issue, and we had a horrific incident,” agency director Janet Phipps said.

Phipps was referring to the case of Dave Jamison, the former director of the Iowa Finance Authority, who was fired in March after he was accused of engaging in brazen, sexually harassing and assaultive behavior toward female employees.

...But several organizations, including one that represents sexual-assault victims, asked that lawmakers slow down and that they had questions about the wording in the rules.

“It's really really important that we get this right,” said Matty Smith with the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

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