The widespread and longstanding sexual harassment highlighted in an investigative report released last month by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries remains unresolved after a 14-hour mediation session that ended in the early morning hours of Feb. 6.
At issue are findings by former BOLI Commissioner Brad Avakian, who initiated a commissioners complaint last year, that the two longtime leaders of the Legislature, House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) and Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) failed to act to stop sexual harassment in the Capitol.
Avakian’s report concluded with several sustained findings of harassment, which could lead to sanctions against legislative leadership, monetary awards to the victims or some other resolution.
Saul Hubbard, a spokesman for BOLI, says lawyers representing Kotek and Courtney met yesterday with mediator Janice Wilson, a retired Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge.
The mediation is a private proceeding, so it is unknown what the parties said or why they failed to reach agreement after 14 hours of what Hubbard terms “intense negotiations.”
“No further mediation sessions have been scheduled as of right now,” Hubbrad says in an email. “BOLI anticipates that more talks could happen and are open to that.”
Although Kotek and Courtney took issue with various aspects of Avakian’s report and its criticism of their behavior, both have expressed a desire to enforce better behavior among lawmakers. How they achieve that and what consequences they are willing to shoulder for past failures to supervise their colleagues remains to be seen.
“While the mediation itself and related communications are confidential,” Hubbard added in an email, “Any settlement agreement will be made public in full.”
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