Politics

A Louisville Metro Council work-group isn’t quite ready to advance a pair of measures aimed at creating a harassment policy for the city’s legislative body.

The five-member, bipartisan group met Tuesday afternoon to discuss the proposals that, if eventually approved, would establish a policy and a reporting method for harassment allegations among Metro Council employees.

Presently, the council lacks such guidelines. The need for a policy has been highlighted in recent weeks amid sexual harassment allegations against Democratic Councilman Dan Johnson.

Johnson was accused earlier this month of groping Democratic Councilwoman Jessica Green during a news conference. Green is leading the council’s work-group focused on establishing the harassment policy and procedure.

She said following Tuesday’s meeting that she’s looking for a policy that affords protections for victims and due process for the accused.

“Really, to just foster respect,” Green said.

Tuesday’s meeting at City Hall lasted about 90 minutes. The council members were joined by counsel from the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office.

The council members and attorneys sifted through two measures — an ordinance and a resolution.

The Proposal

The ordinance would establish an anonymous tip-line on which Metro Council employees could request an investigation if “the employee believes he or she has experienced harassment at work.”

If the complaints were considered to have merit, the tip-line operator would forward the complaint on for further investigation by the city’s Ethics Commission, Human Resources, Human Relations Commission or police department, under the proposed ordinance.

Each month, the tip-line operator would compile a report of complaints and present it to the Metro Council and the city’s mayor.

The resolution under consideration by the work-group would amend the council’s formal policy to include an “anti-harassment policy.”

The seven-page policy provides details about the definition of harassment, the reporting of such conduct and the review and follow-up action related to any report of harassment.

Both the ordinance and resolution are still in flux and no final agreement has yet to be made on finer details such as what disciplinary actions could ensue following an harassment complaint.

Leaders Call for Johnson’s Temporary Removal

The work-group’s meeting came as The Courier-Journal reported a petition was delivered to the Metro Council president demanding the “immediate temporary removal” of Councilman Dan Johnson.

Tony Hyatt, spokesman for the council’s majority Democratic caucus, said state law preempts the council president from having the sole authority to remove an individual member from the Metro Council.

The president can, however, remove a member from committees.

To remove an individual member from the Metro Council would require an order from the city’s mayor or a vote from at least five members of the council, Hyatt said.

When asked if she’d seek a five member committee to vote on Johnson’s removal, Green said she’s unsure there is an interest to do so.

“I’m not ready to make any comment on that outside the fact that I’m eager to get this process behind me,” she said.

The council work-group will meet again on July 10.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.