An interdepartmental team will carry out the review and deliver recommendations by the end of May, Jenny Durkan told the city’s employees.

Share story

Mayor Jenny Durkan has ordered an “extensive review” of Seattle’s harassment and discrimination policies and her administration will require annual anti-harassment training for all city workers.

An interdepartmental team will carry out the review and deliver recommendations by the end of May, the mayor said Thursday in a letter to the city’s employees.

“We must strive for a work environment where all people, regardless of their background or identity, feel comfortable and are treated with dignity and respect,” Durkan said in the letter.

“The city must hold itself accountable for ensuring that harassment in the workplace is addressed in a timely and appropriate fashion.”

Durkan’s announcement comes amid the ongoing #MeToo movement, which has directed attention across the world toward sexual harassment and sexual assault.

And it comes as city employees are speaking out about how sexual harassment and discrimination allegations are being handled within Seattle’s government.

The Stranger recently reported on concerns inside City Light’s Customer Energy Solutions division and Crosscut recently reported on problems inside the city’s Department of Human Resources.

Earlier this month, The Seattle Times reported the city would pay $220,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by two former library security guards who said a manager kissed them and didn’t investigate a co-worker who held one of them on his lap and spanked her.

A group of city employees has begun meeting regularly to talk about harassment and discrimination.

And on Jan. 12, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold sent Durkan a letter requesting, among other things, an Office of Civil Rights-led review of the city’s sexual-harassment policies and a survey of city employees on sexual harassment.

Before the interdepartmental team delivers its recommendations, some immediate changes are being made, Durkan said.

The city’s departments must now involve its central Department of Human Resources when handling certain employee claims, according to a plan sent with the letter to Seattle employees.

And the anti-harassment training that Seattle has in the past mandated for new employees will be expanded, updated and mandated annually for all of the city’s about 12,000 employees, according to the plan.

Also, as part of a survey on the city’s Race and Social Justice Initiative, employees will be asked about issues related to harassment.

The interdepartmental team’s recommendations will cover anti-harassment training, reporting mechanisms and personnel rules, according to Durkan’s plan.

City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, as well as union representatives, will be involved, the mayor said.