For too long, deafening silence has defined the response many people receive when reporting harassment or discrimination at their work or they do not report at all because of fearing retaliation. At the King County Council, we’re changing that by building on the momentum from the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements to create a work environment that is inclusive, safe and respectful for all of the County’s more than 14,000 employees.
Last year, the Council approved legislation I sponsored to update King County’s policies and procedures on discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment, and inappropriate workplace conduct. Along with improved training, the legislation established new requirements that included clear definitions of discrimination and harassment and created new ways to report misconduct. As a result, each agency and department within the County was required to submit its plans to improve and strengthen harassment and discrimination policies, procedures and training.
Last week, we continued our effort to ensure our employees can speak up and speak out without fear of retribution by updating the policies and procedures for employees, contractors and councilmembers who work at the King County Council. These new policies clearly recognize the power dynamic that exists between elected leaders and their staff and creates new ways in which employees can report workplace complaints.
I particularly appreciated working with King County Councilmembers Claudia Balducci and Kathy Lambert on this measure, and all of my colleagues for their unanimous support. Our action highlights our shared values and principles in ensuring a safe, supportive and inclusive workplace and a commitment to equity and social justice.
This year, I am exploring updating our statute of limitations for individuals who file discrimination/harassment claims against King County employees. Stay tuned for more information.