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Wisconsin had range of discipline in sexual harassment cases



MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Discipline for Wisconsin employees accused of sexual harassment and misconduct in the last five years have included termination, suspension and reprimands, according to state records.

The Wisconsin State Journal requested the records from the state Department of Administration last year amid increased scrutiny of how government institutions address sexual harassment complaints. The request sought records for the past decade, but state law only requires the department keep records for five years, said Christopher Green, the department’s chief legal counsel.

The cases involve employees at the state Capitol Police Department, the Department of Financial Institutions, two district attorney’s offices, DOA Facilities Management and the Department of Tourism.

Allegations included asking a co-worker for her underwear and naked photos, inappropriately touching a co-worker and sending a sexually explicit text message.

Some employees were instructed to write apologies or undergo sexual harassment training, according to the records. At least one employee resigned after a co-worker alleged he sexually harassed her.

Other agencies may have imposed separate disciplines, Green said. He added that the records are not comprehensive.

A 2016 law strengthened the state’s ability to fire state employees found harassing or intentionally causing physical harm in the work place, said Steve Michels, a DOA spokesman. Employees are now more likely to be terminated for sexual harassment, he said.

New state employees are also required to undergo sexual harassment and discrimination prevention training, Michels said. State agencies streamlined human resources services under the last state budget, which can help standardize behavior expectations across the different agencies, he said.

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