Sexual Harassment Policies in State Legislatures


gavelIn October 2017, NCSL conducted a survey to learn more information on legislative policies on sexual harassment. After reviewing the policies we’ve received, reading materials by experts in the field—including general harassment guidelines promoted by the EEOC—NCSL has concluded that a strong legislative sexual harassment policy should include the following elements.

Policy Elements

  • A clear definition of “sexual harassment.”
  • Examples of what behaviors are considered inappropriate in the workplace.
  • A policy that applies to legislators and staff, as well as nonemployees, such as lobbyists and outside vendors.
  • A diversity of contacts within the legislature to whom sexual harassment can be reported, allowing the complainant to bypass reporting to his or her direct supervisor.
  • A clear statement prohibiting retaliation for the filing of any claim.
  • A statement providing for confidentiality, to the extent possible, for all parties involved.
  • Specific examples of potential discipline, if warranted.
  • The possibility of involving parties outside the legislature to assist in the investigation, if it is warranted or requested.
  • An appeal procedure.
  • A statement informing the complainant that she or he can also file a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and/or the state’s Human Rights Commission.

State Policy Examples

Every state legislature is unique, and states have tailored their policies to reflect the special concerns within the state, as well the structure of their organization. The following states provide examples of the above-mentioned criteria:

Nothing in this document should be construed to constitute legal advice. The examples and language are for informational purposes only.