Beacon Hill Sexual Harassment Policies Under Review

Gov. Charlie Baker and Speaker Robert DeLeo announced a formal dive into the Capitol's zero-tolerance rules.

Photo via Governor’s Office/Alastair Pike

As the insidious culture of sexual harassment permeating Beacon Hill continues to come to light, Gov. Charlie Baker has directed staff to review the administration’s zero-tolerance harassment policy.

Last week, the Boston Globe reported the stories of female lobbyists being propositioned by male lawmakers in exchange for votes; of women fearing retribution and a loss of influence should they report someone; of young activists being touched at parties by congressional aides. According to WCVB, Gov. Baker was disturbed by the alleged misconduct and doubled down on his commitment to eradicating those who cross the line.

Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo said in a press release he was “infuriated and deeply disturbed,” by the allegations, particularly that “victims fear the consequences to their careers of reporting the harassment.” In response, DeLeo initiated a formal review of the House’s sexual harassment policies and committed to investigating any alleged incidents. The counsel carrying out the review is also tasked with recommending enhancements to current policies and structures in order to eradicate sexual harassment from Beacon Hill.

In a statement of his own, Gov. Baker offered support for DeLeo’s decision to formally take another look at policies in an effort “to create a safer environment and encourage reporting of any misconduct.”

Massachusetts is not the only state being forced to confront years of underreported incidents of sexual harassment within the legislature. Earlier this month, 147 women involved in California politics identified a “pervasive” culture of sexual harassment within their chambers. Victims in Springfield, Illinois, similarly came together to call out inappropriate behavior. And reports of offensive actions have also flowed from state Capitols in Oregon and Rhode Island.