Democrat questions effectiveness of sexual harassment video for lawmakers

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110TH TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLY5 things to watch in the Tennessee legislature (Feb. 5) | 1:05

Tennessee lawmakers are back in session. Here are five things to watch for the week of Feb. 5. Joel Ebert and Duane W. Gang / The Tennessean

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Jan. 30, 2017 gave his annual State of the State address before the General Assembly. Here are three takeways from his speech, the next to last before leaving office. Joel Ebert and Duane W. Gang / The Tennessean / Wochit

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110TH TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLYGov. Haslam's 2017-18 education budget | 1:02

Gov. Bill Haslam's 2017-18 budget includes $100 million for teacher pay raises and $22.2 million for English-language learning students. Jason Gonzales / The Tennessean / Wochit

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Sen. Doug Overbey discussed wilfire recovery efforts Tuesday in the Senate finance committee meeting in Nashville. Jake Lowary/Tennessean

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110TH TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLYRep. David Hawk reacts to State of the State | 2:43

Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, reacts to Gov. Bill Haslam's State of the State address Jan. 30 at the capitol. Jake Lowary/Tennessean

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110TH TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLYSen. Jim Tracy reacts to State of the State | 1:56

Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, reacts to Gov. Bill Haslam's State of the State address Jan. 30 at the capitol. Jake Lowary/Tennessean

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110TH TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLYNashville Democrats react to State of the State | 1:15

Democrats Rep. Mike Stewart and Sen. Jeff Yarbro, both of Nashville, react to State of the State address Jan. 30 at the capitol. Jake Lowary/Tennessean

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110TH TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLYRaw video: Haslam discusses 2018 budget proposal | 5:51

Gov. Bill Haslam outlined his 2018 budget with reporters on Jan. 30 at the capitol. Jake Lowary/Tennessean

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110TH TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLYSenator Mark Norris reacts to State of the State pt. 2 | 0:00

State of the State Kirk Bado / The Tennessean

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110TH TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLYSenator Mark Norris reacts to State of the State pt. 1 | 0:00

Norris reacts to State of the State.

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110TH TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLY5 things to watch in the Tennessee legislature (Week of Feb. 1) | 0:35

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110TH TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLYGov. Haslam wants to expand broadband access to Tennesseans | 3:36

Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 announced efforts to expand broadband access. Adam Tamburin/The Tennessean

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110TH TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLYGov. Haslam outlines broadband initiative | 1:03

Gov. Bill Haslam announced the latest plank of his legislative agenda — a broadband initiative — Thursday morning at Cane Ridge High School in Antioch. Haslam's plan will provide $45 million over 3 years in grants and tax credits for service providers. The governor said the plan focuses on three broad issues: funding, cutting regulation and education — "digital literacy." Karen Kraft / The Tennessean

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110TH TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLYSen. Doug Overbey discusses Gatlinburg recovery | 1:06

Sen. Doug Overbey discusses Gatlinburg recovery after a meeting Thursday at the legislature in Nashville. Jake Lowary / The Tennessean

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110TH TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLYKey legislative issues to watch | 1:42

With lawmakers set to return to Nashville on Tuesday to officially convene the 110th General Assembly, the session is expected to cover a multitude of issues ranging from a potential gas tax increase to how to spend the state's budget surplus. Kyleah Starling/The Tennessean

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110TH TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLYRon Ramsey readies to leave Lt. Governor post | 0:47

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17 of 17

  • 5 things to watch in the Tennessee legislature (Feb. 5)
  • 3 takeaways from Gov. Bill Haslam's State of the State address
  • Gov. Haslam's 2017-18 education budget
  • Sen. Doug Overbey discusses wildfire recovery
  • Rep. David Hawk reacts to State of the State
  • Sen. Jim Tracy reacts to State of the State
  • Nashville Democrats react to State of the State
  • Raw video: Haslam discusses 2018 budget proposal
  • Senator Mark Norris reacts to State of the State pt. 2
  • Senator Mark Norris reacts to State of the State pt. 1
  • 5 things to watch in the Tennessee legislature (Week of Feb. 1)
  • Gov. Haslam wants to expand broadband access to Tennesseans
  • Gov. Haslam outlines broadband initiative
  • 5 things to know about Gov. Haslam's IMPROVE Act proposal
  • Sen. Doug Overbey discusses Gatlinburg recovery
  • Key legislative issues to watch
  • Ron Ramsey readies to leave Lt. Governor post

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(From right) House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart, Rep, Bo Mitchell and Rep. Barbara Cooper are calling on a lawmaker accused of a retaliatory firing in the scathing attorney general‘s report into Jeremy Durham to resign.(Photo: Kyleah Starling / The Tennessean)Buy Photo

A Nashville Democrat is questioning whether the new requirement for members of the Tennessee General Assembly to watch a sexual harassment training video would have halted expelled lawmaker Jeremy Durham or might even prevent harassment by others in the future.

“No, here in this place, I don‘t think it would stop it,” Rep. said Tuesday, shortly after watching the video.

House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, made the training mandatory after Attorney General Herbert Slatery found Durham had inappropriate sexual with at least 22 women.

Prior to returning to Nashville at the start of the legislative session in mid-January, lawmakers and legislative staff members received letters from Director of Legislative Administration Connie Ridley informing them that they needed to watch the video by the end of the month.

Ridley said the video came from , a Chicago-based company. The legislature paid $1,295 for it.

Ridley said the public and media are not able to obtain or view the training because it was “provided at a cost per person so it is only available to employees of the legislature.” Despite offers to pay the cost associated with viewing the video, Ridley said the contract the legislature entered into with ATS Media provided video training for “legislative personnel only.”

On Tuesday, Mitchell allowed The Tennessean to watch the video with him inside his legislative office.

The nearly 23-minute video, entitled “,” began with a woman standing in a unspecified office.

During the course of the video, the viewers are provided with 14 examples of various forms of sexual harassment.

One segment featured a female supervisor encouraging a male employee to come to her house in the evening to discuss work-related business. The video noted that if an employee perceives he or she is being offered or denied any work-related benefits in return for sexual favors that could be an example of a quid pro quo sexual harassment, which is illegal.

In another example, a male employee at a clothing store says “nice rack” to a female coworker as she is looking through clothes on hangers. Although the male claimed he was simply referring to the woman as someone who is “good at hanging things,” the video used the example to show that sexual innuendos are a form of sexual harassment.

Other examples of sexual harassment in the video included a female employee receiving an inappropriate email, a co-worker persistently asking his colleague out on a date and a man asking a male and a female coworker if a pink button up shirt “makes me look gay.”

There were also a few examples of men being harassed both by women and other men. One vignette featured two middle-aged men in a warehouse looking at a younger male coworker as he was working on a ladder. One of the older men asked the young employee if he should get a “real man” to help him while suggesting he might have a “hissy fit.”

After more than 20 minutes of various examples, the video recapped by saying that sexual harassment does not belong in a work environment.

“We must learn to recognize it in all it‘s forms and to take the steps necessary to stop it,” the female narrator said. “Education and prevention are the keys to stopping sexual harassment in your organization.”

Mitchell expressed skepticism that the entire video is an adequate way to address the overall problem of sexual harassment at the legislature.

“We just went on our merry little way and everything‘s fine now. We got rid of Jeremy and we‘re all going to watch 22 minutes and 56 seconds and the problem is solved. Let‘s not talk about it anymore,” he said pejoratively.

Sexual harassment experts have said they prefer in-person training over watching a video. Tom Tohill, president of the , a Nashville-based organization, previously said the best form of combating sexual harassment is through in-person training.

Lawmakers are required to undergo in-person ethics training each year.

After watching the sexual harassment video, which does not include any interactive portion and could be played in the background of a computer or even when the person is not in the room, lawmakers were required to sign a certificate of completion once they finished their training.

Beyond the online training, Harwell called for an update to the legislature‘s sexual harassment policy. The was adopted in July. In addition to the new policy, the House this year created a that will handle any valid sexual harassment complaints against a lawmaker.

Mitchell pointed to one specific finding from the attorney general report — a source of constant frustration from the Nashville Democrat and y — as evidence the video will do little good in the statehouse.

Part of the the final report included an account of a lawmaker, referred to as Rep. Jane Doe #33, who allegedly fired her legislative assistant due to a relationship between the Rep. Jane Doe No. 33 and Durham.

Democrats have blasted Rep. Jane Doe  No. 33 since the report was , saying she fired the staff member as a form of retaliation. During the special session in September where , state Rep. , D-Nashville, called on Rep. Jane Doe No. 33 to identify herself on the floor.

The Tennessean has not identified Rep. Jane Doe #33 in order to protect the identity of the former employee, who was a victim of sexual harassment.

“There was no consequences for those actions so the people who were acting in that way then are going to continue act in that way,” Mitchell said.

In general, Mitchell said he is optimistic that the legislature is headed in the right direction.

“Hopefully what has happened has sent enough shock waves to others that may have gotten away with something in the past, maybe they‘ll think twice about it now,” he said.

Kara Owen, a spokeswoman for Harwell, pointed out that when Democrats controlled the legislature there was no regularly offered sexual harassment training.

“The video was recommended by (National Conference of State Legislatures), but it is not the only tool being used to address this issue,” Owen said. “The new policy, which for the first time is accessible on the website, is an extremely important part of ensuring the Tennessee General Assembly is a workplace free of harassment or discrimination.”

Reach Joel Ebert at  or and on Twitter .

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