On the heels of sexual harassment allegations at the Overture Center for the Arts, City of Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz released the city's newly revised policies regarding harassment and discrimination Monday.
George Twigg, communications director for the office of the mayor, said the revised policy makes several changes to the original. One significant revision is the changed procedure in the reporting of any harassment violation. Twigg said he hopes this change curbs the frequency of sexual harassment.
"Sexual harassment in the workplace is simply unacceptable," Twigg said. "Making the process easier for victims to come forward will hopefully discourage sexual harassment."
Twigg said one other notable change is that the mayor has expanded the definition of hiring discrimination in the revised policy to include people infected with human immunodeficiency disorder (HIV).
Cieslewicz expects every member of city staff to be trained in the new policy in the near future, Twigg added.
"The mayor is making sure every city employee is trained in the revised policy by the end of the year," Twigg said. "If not by then, then by early 2006 at the latest."
The release comes in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against Bob D'Angelo, president and chief executive officer of the Overture Center. Monica Everson, who worked under D'Angelo for 15 years, filed a seven-page formal complaint with Madison's Affirmative Action Department and claims the complaint is the reason for D'Angelo's resignation announcement Sept. 19.
"I think filing my complaint forced him to retire," Everson said. "I think he was afraid other women would come forward and ruin his good name."
In his resignation letter, D'Angelo said he was retiring to spend more time with family and friends and to travel.
Everson said she is considering pressing charges against the president and CEO of the Overture Center, but unless more women come forward or undisputed evidence is found on either side of the issue, any conclusions remain speculative.
Twigg said the release of the revised harassment and discrimination policy is receiving extra attention because of the accusations against D'Angelo. Twigg denied, however, that the release of the revised policy was a direct response to the allegations.
"These revisions have been in the making for quite some time. The revision process began two-and-a-half years ago," Twigg said. "The timing was a coincidence. The mayor is glad to see the policy was ready for release at this time because the focus on the D'Angelo situation reinforces the seriousness of the policy."
In a release, Cieslewicz said harassment in the workplace is a concern and the city will strictly enforce consequences of any city employee who does not follow the revised policy.
"Any violation of the city's sexual harassment policy is something I take very seriously," Cieslewicz said.
Cieslewicz said every City of Madison employee should feel safe enough to report sexual harassment without the fear of retaliation.
Twigg said the policy covers all forms of harassment and discrimination, but the recent media focus has led people to concentrate only as it applies to sexual harassment and discrimination.