Georgia’s executive branch has taken meaningful early steps
to curb sexual harassment in the workplace, affecting approximately 80,000
government workers and the citizens who interact with them. On Gov. Brian Kemp’s
first day in office, he signed an Executive
Order that will change the state’s sexual harassment policies. On
Wednesday, Gov. Kemp announced he would implement that Order.
The reforms call for among other things a uniform sexual harassment policy, employee sexual harassment training, and establishing the Office of the Inspector General to investigate sexual harassment. As noted by the Atlanta Journal of Constitution, in previous years each executive department developed its own sexual harassment policy and enforcement mechanisms which were fraught with issues of confidentiality, effectiveness, and consistency. The announced modifications follow many of the best practices recommended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The rollout of the new policy is in the early stages, and budgetary issues associated with the reforms have yet to be determined.
The change will only impact the executive
branch. However, the legislature and judiciary are currently discussing improvements
to their respective sexual harassment policies. Although, progress toward
reforming sexual harassment policies is occurring faster in the courts than
with the lawmakers.
In the Executive Order, Gov. Kemp stated, “The State of Georgia does not tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace, and the State of Georgia is committed to providing a harassment free workplace and environment for its employees and all citizens who interact with the state government.”