Freeing workplace for women Neall bill targets sex harassment

September 15, 1992|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

County Executive Robert R. Neall told a group of county employees yesterday that his administration is drafting a bill that will outlaw sexual harassment in the local government work force.

"This is a very, very serious issue and we've got a lot of room for improvement," Mr. Neall told the gathering of more than 100 workers in the County Council chambers. "I want to make sure that this is wiped out in the county work force."

Mr. Neall decided to pursue the legislation shortly after a ninth woman came forward in July complaining of sexual harassment in the Police Department. Since February, five county police officers, including two captains and two sergeants, have been the subject of sexual harassment investigations.

The legislation, which must be adopted by the County Council before becoming law, extends an order issued by Mr. Neall in January 1992, soon after he took office, prohibiting sexual harassment in the executive department.

The executive ordered a review of the existing county policy on sexual harassment and found it lacking, said Louise Hayman, a spokeswoman for Mr. Neall.

The new legislation will detail a clear process for anyone who wishes to file a sexual harassment complaint, something that was missing in both the existing county policy and Mr. Neall's executive order, Ms. Hayman said.

After the bill is drafted, it will be forwarded to the County Council, perhaps as early as next month.

Annapolis passed a law prohibiting sexual harassment in April. The law makes such harassment a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Mr. Neall also briefed the employees on a proposed child-care center at the Heritage Center on Riva Road. "One of the things I'd love to do as an employer is to make child care available to my employees," Mr. Neall said.

Surveys will be sent out with county paychecks on Friday. Responses are due back by Oct. 1.

"And then we'll see what people have said, determine the need and we'll go from there," Ms. Hayman said.

The center would not be subsidized. The advantage to having the center would be its convenient location and the preference in admission given to county employees.

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