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Bloomington Passes Harassment Protections For Contractors, City Employees

City of Bloomington logo inside City Hall Council Chambers

The amended policy would extend to all sanctioned city workers, including contractors, volunteers and interns. (Alex Eady, WTIU/WFIU News)

The Bloomington City Council voted to extend the city’s harassment protections to cover all sanctioned city workers. 

The amended policy fills the gaps brought out by sexual harassment allegations a contractor made against former Monroe County commissioner Amanda Barge earlier this year.

The revised ordinance would extend protection against harassment or discrimination to independent contractors, volunteers, interns and anyone else doing sanctioned work for the city.

Barbara McKinney is the director of the Human Rights Commission and assistant city attorney. She says the revised policy should make harassment policies and worker rights clearer. 

“And frankly, if we had such a complaint right now, we would take it seriously and we would take appropriate action," she says. "But we were concerned independent contractors might not know that we would take it seriously and we want to make it clear to them that this was indeed our policy.”

Companies the city contracts with would also be required to submit their policies prohibiting harassment in the workplace to the Human Rights Commission.

In March, Brandon Drake detailed allegations to the Indiana Daily Student that Barge hit on him and shut him out professionally when he was working as an independent contractor for the county. Barge has since stepped down from her role as County Commissioner. 

During a public hearing last night, Drake spoke in favor of the resolution, but he says city policy should look to a special review committee to avoid conflicts of interest. 

“When everybody’s friends and people are pointing friends to committees, that can be very scary for an outside person experiencing that; they don’t know where to go," he says. "So, like an outside commission that they can at least report to and start the process.”

Council member Isabel Piedmont-Smith proposed an amendment to the resolution that changes the ordinance’s pronoun language from ‘she’ or ‘he’ to the non-binary pronoun, ‘they’. 

McKinney says the revisions will be updated in all contracts going forward and reiterated in future orientations. 

The council unanimously approved the legislation with a 6-0 vote. Council members Allison Chopra, Chris Sturbaum and Dorothy Granger were not present.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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