Des Moines, IA- A former aide for Republicans serving in the Iowa Senate filed a lawsuit alleging that she and other female staffers were routinely subjected to sexual harassment and her supervisors did nothing to stop it when she complained. The suit even alleges she was fired after coming forward.
Kristen Anderson served as the communications director for the Iowa GOP for five years before she was fired in 2013 which she said was in retaliation for complaining about the sexual harassment she experienced and witnessed.
In her suit, Anderson alleges Senators made inappropriate comments about male and female bodies in front of her and other female staffers, and one of analyst showed her photos of nude women on his computer.
When she spoke with WHO-TV, Anderson said senators and staffers used “sexist language,” made comments about her body and told “improper” jokes. She described the atmosphere in the officer as “toxic” where female staffers were “objectified” and “ridiculed.”
Anderson’s suit also alleges that two female Senators, Sandra Greiner and Joni Ernst, who is up for reelection this November, witnessed the inappropriate behavior A claim both Senators denied, and insinuated that she was being exploited for political gain.
In a statement, Sen. Ernst said, according to the Des Moines register, “As a mother of three daughters and someone who has been sexually harassed myself, I take sexual harassment allegations very seriously.” She said she would have taken steps to stop it, adding, “I hope she is not being exploited ahead of the election.”
Anderson told the television station that on May 17th, 2013, she filed a formal complaint and was fired by the end of the day. She believes it was she complained, but her former employers allege she was fired because of her performance.
“She was terminated for cause, which has to do with her work product, which had been brought to her attention months ago. And it didn’t improve,” According to Ed Failor, Assistant to Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix told WHO-TV.
Defendants named on the suit include the state of Iowa, the Iowa Senate, the Senate Republican Caucus, Republican Leader Bill Dix, Senate Republican Staff Director Eric Johansen and Ed Failor, a top aide to Dix, the Des Moines Register reported.
Anderson initially filed a complaint with the Iowa Department of Human Right, but she and the other parties were unable to resolve the matter so she filed a complaint in federal court.
According to Iowa Senate rules, employees who have been sexually harassed must report the incident to their direct supervisor first, and if the issue is not resolved then the victim must write out a formal complaint.
Retaliation is something sexual harassment attorneys see often and can be much easier to prove than the actual harassment. If you have complained about harassment but have been ignored, you should contact one of our accomplished Iowa sexual harassment attorneys to discuss your case and figure out the best course of action for you to take.