Archive for Thursday, April 1, 2004

City employees required to attend training session

Discrimination, sexual harassment in workplace reviewed in meeting

April 1, 2004

City employees spent Tuesday morning reviewing what's considered appropriate in the workplace.

All city employees were required to attend one of two mandatory 90-minute training sessions led by the Kansas Human Rights Commission. An additional training session was required for department supervisors.

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"It was a general type of training covering discrimination and sexual harassment in particular," City Administrator Jeff Dingman said.

A variety of issues were addressed, Dingman said, including sexual harassment.

"The definition of sexual harassment and examples were given," he said, "what kind of things are appropriate and inappropriate.

"The information covered is nothing new to anybody," he said. "These are just things that need to be talked about every once in awhile so they're not overlooked or forgotten."

The training session comes just a few weeks after a former city employee filed a $50,000 lawsuit against Baldwin because she said she was subjected to sexual harassment during her tenure as city meter reader.

Fadra Andrews Mitchell is suing the city because she said she suffered embarrassment, humiliation and emotional distress after being subjected to pornographic playing cards, magazines and calendars while working for the Public Works Department.

Dingman said while the topics were timely issues for the city, the training sessions weren't scheduled because of the lawsuit.

"It wasn't done in response to it, but it was done because it needed to be done," he said. "It's been known there needed to be something done. We've known we needed to do it before this (the lawsuit) was brought to light."

He said discrimination training sessions had been required for city employees in the past, but it had been at least a couple of years since the last one.

"I think the employees responded well to it," he said. "It was well received."

Dingman said he hopes to continue with training sessions, each covering addressing a different issue.

"There needs to be an effort to cover a variety of different topics, not just sexual harassment," he said.

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