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Supervisors order review of LA County's sexual harassment policies

The Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration in downtown Los Angeles houses the County Equity Oversight Panel, which handles complaints from county employees regarding sexual harassment. Susanica Tam for KPCC

Four of the five Los Angeles County supervisors are female and their awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace emerged during a discussion Tuesday of how the county can improve procedures for its own employees filing complaints of inappropriate behavior.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, in her first meeting as board chair, recounted unwanted hugs during her time in the state Legislature. 

Supervisor Janice Hahn, who spent over five years in the U.S. House, said the procedures for reporting sexual harassment claims in Congress are "horrible." And Supervisor Kathryn Barger supported a "self-review" to see how the county can do better.

After a short discussion, the board voted unanimously to back a proposal from Kuehl and Supervisor Hilda Solis to order a speedy review of the county’s sexual harassment policies. The board action requires the Executive Office, County Counsel staff and the Department of Human Resources "to provide a report next week on the County's reporting process, including a description of current practices and a detailed opinion on whether any improvements should be considered."

Solis said the county has long had a strong program to address sexual harassment and other forms of inappropriate behavior in the workplace. “However, I do believe it’s important for us at this time to review Los Angeles County’s reporting process to determine its effectiveness and applicability during these times,” she said.

Vickey Bane, the executive director of the county's Equity Oversight Panel, told KPCC last week no improvements or changes are needed to the county's policies.

But Bane also said her department has seen an uptick in the filing of sexual harassment complaints since recent high-profile sexual allegations surfaced nationwide.