Utah legislator kisses ‘attractive’ employee’s injured hand, offers to take care of her

Stock Photo | St. George / Cedar City News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Two Utah lawmakers had to take additional sexual harassment training over the past decade after allegations of sexual harassment were made against them — including one who, according to records, told a legislative employee that it was nice to have “a pretty face” in the office.

Documents provided to The Associated Press after a public records request show that with each allegation, the Legislature’s workplace compliance officer spoke to the lawmakers involved about their behavior.

The records from the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, which serves as the Legislature’s legal branch, offered few details about the complaints and did not identify the lawmakers or the chamber in which they served.

Unlike other states, no Utah lawmakers have resigned or been removed from legislative positions over the past year because of sexual harassment or misconduct allegations. In several states, taxpayer money was used to settle claims against lawmakers.

Utah’s Legislature said it had no records indicating it had made any settlements in harassment or misconduct cases over a 10-year period going back to 2008, the period for which AP requested records.

All Utah lawmakers are required to undergo harassment training at least once a year.

The Legislature’s general counsel, John Fellows, declined to identify whether the two complaints involved lawmakers in the House of Representatives or the state Senate. He cited concerns that providing those details could reveal the identities of those who filed the complaints and could chill future reporting.

In one instance from October 2016, a female employee reported to the Legislature’s workplace harassment coordinator that a lawmaker called her names such as “honey” or “sweetie,” sought help setting up a date with a young woman and made comments about her looks. He told her it was nice to have “an attractive woman” and “a pretty face” in the office, according to records detailing the allegation.

The employee once thought she injured her hand and the lawmaker approached her at her desk, kissed her hand and made a comment about taking care of her, the records said.

She complained to him about the kiss and the comment, and he told her “I will remember that at your next evaluation,” according to an account of the conversation detailed in the records.

The female staffer decided not to make a formal complaint against the lawmaker, but the workplace compliance officer said the pattern of behavior was serious and credible enough to require action, according to the records.

After consulting with outside counsel, Fellows and another of the Legislature’s lawyers who serves as the compliance officer told the lawmaker his behavior was inappropriate. They described appropriate workplace interactions and warned him that he was barred against taking any kind of retaliatory action against the woman.

The lawmaker did not recall some of the events and was “visibly shaken by the allegations,” but agreed to re-take harassment training, according to the documents.

Records of the second allegation show that in April 2017, the compliance officer spoke with a lawmaker about following discrimination laws and the lawmaker underwent additional harassment training after that conversation.

Fellows said the compliance officer witnessed behavior that could potentially be inappropriate and spoke to the legislator about it. Fellows declined to describe the behavior, citing concerns that describing it could identify people involved and make others fearful of reporting complaints.

Utah lawmakers are required to take online workplace harassment training annually and usually receive additional in-person training once a year during their party caucus meetings, according to a statement released by the Legislature.

Lawmakers have not proposed changes to their policies or trainings, but are considering requiring anti-harassment training for Utah-based lobbyists.

A panel of lawmakers rejected the idea in November, citing concerns about regulating “guests” at the Capitol. But House Majority Leader Brad Wilson is working on a lobbyist anti-harassment bill to be considered when the Legislature meets later this month.

Written by MICHELLE L. PRICE, Associated Press

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

10 Comments

  • Craig January 11, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Can you say good morning without getting into trouble?

    • John January 11, 2018 at 6:54 pm

      hopefully the snowflakes will melt soon

    • ladybugavenger January 11, 2018 at 7:52 pm

      Just watch out, its how you say it lol watch your tone and undertone. there are some uptight sensitive people all around you. Oh! And don’t look at her either 🤣

    • mesaman January 11, 2018 at 8:27 pm

      I think it would border on the hemline of PC. Were I to return to earth in 50 years would I expect to see emotionless robots at their cell phones replacing the warmth and sensitivity of human beings.

      • great success January 11, 2018 at 11:18 pm

        Make America great again, right mesaman? Where a white ‘Christian’ man can grope whom he dang well pleases. Actually, if you returned to the earth in 50 years, you’d find society attempting to clean up the mess left by the entitled, baby boomers generation.

    • jaybird January 11, 2018 at 9:27 pm

      When was the last time you kissed a subordinate’s hand? That is not at all flattering in an office environment. Unprofessional as all hell and pretty embarassing. What? You think thats shivelry? Get real.

  • ladybugavenger January 11, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    There are some unattractive woman right now praying a man would kiss her injured hand. The world is insane. Youre beautiful ladies, except the tweekers, get off that crap, it’s not sexy

  • jaybird January 11, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    Who were the “two Utah lawmakers” and why are you sheltering them from public opinion? Give us their names!

  • comments January 11, 2018 at 10:24 pm

    if its a feminist its best to lower your gaze to the floor, keep quiet as a little mouse, and scurry passed as quick as possible. any misplaced glance could be construed as “sexual misconduct” or as a feminist will say “he was raping me with his eyes”.

  • ladybugavenger January 13, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    Have you ever met an attractive person and then they started talking and you say to yourself (or out loud) dang! You’re ugly!

    I know you have. Me too. I’ve seen good looking people that are ugly people, just ugly, mean, wicked people.

    Put that in your cup and drink it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.