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New rules approved for workplace misconduct investigations in state government

A legislative committee has taken the unusual step of giving immediate approval to new rules for how workplace misconduct complaints are to be handled in state government.

Iowa Department of Administrative Services director Janet Phipps began drafting these changes a month ago — after an independent report was issued about sexual harassment allegations against the former director of a state agency who was fired by the governor in March.

...The Weinhart law firm’s report indicated the state’s employee handbook was unclear and employees could fear a complaint about harassment from a boss would be handled by the accused harasser. The new rules make it clear the Iowa Department of Administrative Services will handle all complaints made by state employees, unless the person makes their complaint directly to the governor’s office.

Matty Smith of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault said the rules lack clarity on how and when the agency will conduct an investigation.“From our perspective, this whole process has seemed rushed,” Smith said during a period of public comment in today’s Administrative Rules Review Committee meeting. “We have heard from far too many survivors and victims who have had experienced with ineffective processes. It’s really, really important that we get this right.”

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