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Wisconsin city council weighs sexual harassment policies

Some people are asking whether the city council should be held to the same level of professional accountability as other city employees. The issue has come up in the Madison, Wisconsin city meetings before. The question is, are city council members employees or are they some other type of worker? A recent news story reports that some feel it is time for them to be considered employees and not exempt from employer sexual harassment trainings.

One alderman plans to introduce a resolution that would make himself and his 19 colleagues subject to the same administrative rules and training requirements as other city employees. A similar resolution was shot down in 2015 by a committee of aldermen, with the council president arguing that since city council members were not eligible for benefits or pension, that they were not employees. However, since then the city council has acquired significant raises and additional staffing.

The alderman with this year's proposal has a particular interest in the sexual harassment training, one he has taken voluntarily, and that he feels will be helpful to the entire council. A previous sexual harassment issue with another alderman seems to suggest that his proposal is a necessary one. An opponent says that alders are already subject to the city's anti-harassment policy, but that the penalties are different. If alders violate the policy, they can be voted out by their peers. 

For now it is unclear whether the new proposal will have an effect on sexual harassment policies in Madison. For other individuals in Wisconsin who may have experienced harassment in the workplace, there are options to seek justice. An experienced employment law attorney can offer guidance to individuals seeking to file a claim for sexual harassment. 

Source:, "Chris Rickert: Madison alder: What's good for staff is good for the City Council", Chris Rickert, July 18, 2017

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