DES MOINES, Iowa — There was one clear winner when a verdict was announced Tuesday in the lawsuit over sexual harassment and wrong termination claims with the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus.
“I’m really happy for what’s to come. I’m really glad we are still talking about this,” said Kirsten Anderson.
Anderson was awarded $2.2 million for past and future damages by a Polk County jury. But she may not be the only person who will benefit from the outcome. Employment attorneys in the metro say the jury sent a strong message to all employers.
“Employers really wake up. I hope they begin to understand that they have to take these complaints seriously and they can’t retaliate. It really has publicized the sort of things that happen to women ” said Mark Sherinian, with the Sherinian & Hasso Law Firm.
Sherinian has worked in the metro for 30 plus years. He says cases like these are far too common in Iowa. He believes that because it happened at the Capitol it will make employers across the state take a second look at their own policies.
Attorney Roxanne Conlin agrees. She hopes those changes start at the statehouse. “They should be held to some standard. They should be an example of what not to do but of what to do. They are exactly the opposite of what they ought to be,” said Conlin.
Nate Boulton is an employment lawyer, State Senator and a Democratic candidate for Govenror. During the trial, the Republican leadership said testified that there was only so much they could do to change policies because they were in the minority at the time of Anderson’s accusations. Boulton is a part of the minority now, and he says if a harassment complaint came his way he’s handle it much differently than they did.
“We’ll if something was reported to me, I would make sure our staff and leadership do adequately investigate those accusations. Make sure no one is retaliated against for bringing forward their concerns. That is the real thing that happened here in this case that was so disappointing,” said Sen. Boulton.
Boulton says when the session resumes both sides need to aggressive to make sure these behaviors are eliminated and public censure of lawmakers involved in the alleged harassment could be another option.