Harassment ongoing in some state offices


Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2000

When Gov. Tony Knowles' deputy press secretary, Claire Richardson, described the administration's sexual harassment policy as being "zero tolerance," she must have been talking about the policy toward staff who work on the third floor of the capitol, certainly not the state employees who work across the street at the Alaska Office Building or other workplaces.

As an 18-year state employee, who has received "high acceptable" and "outstanding" evaluations throughout my tenure at Health and Social Services, I am one of two women who has a legally binding no-contact order. The no-contact order was issued after a series of incidents by a manager bully at the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services who has a proclivity for making women feel threatened and gloating over his achievements.

This behavior seems to be with the implicit consent of top management because it continues despite repeated requests that it be stopped. This ongoing threatening and harassing behavior, which most rational people would not expect their own wives, daughters, or employees to be subjected to, is well documented. And yet it continues.

The state would like me to go away. They have offered to me, through the union, that I accept a lateral transfer within the department and agree not to pursue legal recourse against the state and others.

I can't talk for the other women who I know have felt threatened by such behavior but I can assure you the process for dealing with this is demeaning, stressful and outrageous.

Perhaps Ms. Richardson would like to investigate the situation at H&SS, or at the Alaska Department of Transportation, before she makes such sweeping statements in the press about what her sisters in state service are having to endure - if she can get such activity approved.

Lee Gaffey


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