Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
February 19, 1999

Espinoza: Harassment education effort planned

by Anne Dolan

If a work or study environment is hostile enough, a victim doesn't have to "lose" anything (job, promotion, degree) to take legal action for sexual harassment, said assistant vice president for human resource services Carla Espinoza during a forum on sexual harassment. Court cases have raised the standard of what sexual harassment is, she said. The discussion preceded the P&S Council's regular meeting Feb. 4.

Reviewing other case summaries, Espinoza also noted that participation in a relationship doesn't mean acceptance or willingness, and that an employer faces a bigger liability when the harasser is a manager. Employers can reduce their liability by writing and announcing policies and procedures that address the problem and clearly define how employees can report offensive conduct.

Espinoza said that later this year, Iowa State will begin an "aggressive effort" to educate all supervisors on campus about ISU's sexual harassment policy and to train them in harassment reporting and prevention.

The potential effect of doing nothing about educating employees is a hostile work environment and a poor reputation for the university as an employer, she said. Espinoza added that she is encouraged by the number of questions she has received from deans about taking corrective action in potential instances of harassment. "It's more than any school I've been at. I find that very promising," she said.

In other business:

The next meeting of the council begins at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 4, in the Memorial Union Pioneer Room. The noon open forum will be a discussion about diversity in job searches, led by the staff in ISU's affirmative action office.

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