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Other voices: State tracking harassment?

The reports of sexual harassment over many years by a Hollywood mogul and allegations about a front-running politician in Alabama are only the latest such stories, as it seems rarely a week goes by without some new disclosures by the famous and infamous.

But The News & Observer’s Will Doran reports that workplace sexual harassment and allegations of it in state government in North Carolina are hard to track. There’s no current system, statewide, for knowing how workers are disciplined and how charges are reported. For one thing, such allegations are coded for reporting purposes as “misconduct,” which could be harassment or could not be. So if someone wants to track, through the Office of Administrative Hearings, some harassment case or its appeal, there’s no use of terms like “sexual harassment.”

It’s entirely possible that somewhere in the state government bureaucracy, there are people aware of how such allegations are becoming more prominent in the world at large — and sadly, how too-common they appear to be — and those people are working on a more efficient and more complete way of reporting and tracking such allegations when they occur in government offices. Certainly a better system is overdue.

The state’s human resources rules, to be fair, do address “discrimination and harassing conduct” and talk about “sexual harassment, discrimination or retaliation,” and that’s good. But the different ways agencies handle the issue can be a problem, and the rules of reporting need to be more uniform.

— The News & Observer

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