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Dating and alcohol rules proposed for campaigns

Wednesday, Sep 26, 2018

* The Illinois Anti-Harassment, Equality and Access panel’s report on the “one ask” policy

Crafting feasible and effective policies regarding consensual romantic relationships on campaigns is challenging. Consensual relationships between peers are not inherently problematic. In fact, many campaign workers are drawn to campaign work in the first place because of the close camaraderie and fellowship among co-workers. However, romantic relationships that are coerced or lack consent are always illegal, and problems can also develop when relationships involve a disparity in power positions, which is a typical feature of campaigns.

Over-regulation of this issue may discourage the friendship and camaraderie that is a hallmark of a well-run campaign and may be impossible to enforce, but ignoring the potential problem can breed poor workplace culture and may be an obstacle to women advancing in politics.

The comprehensive policies from the state parties should establish a rule or policy that is a one-invitation policy: campaign workers and volunteers are allowed to ask co-workers out one time, but if the invitation is declined, the inviter is not permitted to ask again; and strongly discourages dating relationships between superiors and direct reports. We stop at recommending an outright ban because of the fluid organizational structure that is prevalent in campaigns.

Facebook has adopted a one-invitation policy, and has clarified that if the response is “ambiguous” – like “I’m busy” or “I can’t that night” – that counts as a “no.”5 One ask policies are becoming more prevalent in corporate workplaces and are a reasonable balance between appropriate behavior and preventing harassment.

* On to alcohol

We recommend that campaigns consider the risks that alcohol consumption can present and adopt a policy acknowledging that alcohol use is not banned at work-related events or among co-workers, but prohibiting consumption to the extent it interferes with a campaign worker’s ability to perform his or her job or exercise proper judgment.

For example, Google’s Code of Conduct states “Consumption of alcohol is not banned at our offices, but use good judgment and never drink in a way that leads to impaired performance or inappropriate behavior, endangers the safety of others, or violates the law,” and it permits managers that have a “reasonable suspicion” that an employee’s alcohol use may be impairing his job performance or endangering others to request an alcohol screening.

Regardless of the exact policy language, alcohol use should never be used to justify harassing and inappropriate behavior or used to discredit a victim.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

10 Comments »
  1. - JoanP - Wednesday, Sep 26, 18 @ 9:44 am:

    “campaign workers and volunteers are allowed to ask co-workers out one time”

    I think they need to make it clear that it is never okay for a supervisor or one in a superior position (even if not a direct supervisor) to ask out a co-worker. Saying that “problems can also develop when relationships involve a disparity in power positions” isn’t enough.


  2. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 26, 18 @ 9:51 am:

    ===request an alcohol screening.===

    Other than the larger statewide campaigns, I’m not sure any other campaigns have an HR department to handle this kind of thing. Lots of campaigns have few than 10 paid staff. Unless the parties step up and provide some of these services to campaigns, I think this will prove difficult to implement.

    When I worked on campaigns, we had an informal way of handling a situation when an employee’s drinking was impairing performance. It sometimes involved firing them on the spot. Not terrible sympathetic, but at least it was a permanent fix and tended to remind the rest of the team of the expectations.


  3. - Shark Sandwich - Wednesday, Sep 26, 18 @ 9:53 am:

    I guess we could call the alcohol stuff the “Lovell Law”.


  4. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Sep 26, 18 @ 9:58 am:

    Sorry, 9:51 is me.


  5. - Lt Guv - Wednesday, Sep 26, 18 @ 10:07 am:

    These sound like reasoned, good faith efforts. The one question I have is surrounding booze. Given the pervasive reception/party culture under the Dome I’m not sure who draws the line when you’re in Springfield v out in Quincy.


  6. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Sep 26, 18 @ 10:47 am:

    @ 9:51

    Parties should step up and provide this function, or maybe compliance consultants.

    Too many people have suffered. The thing about relationships is that it counts on people actually reporting them to HR, which has not been done in my campaign experience on a large campaign that had a full HR department


  7. - Anon - Wednesday, Sep 26, 18 @ 11:10 am:

    don’t blame alcohol. alcohol is awesome. no consequences for bad behavior is the problem.


  8. - low level - Wednesday, Sep 26, 18 @ 11:43 am:

    ==When I worked on campaigns, we had an informal way of handling a situation when an employee’s drinking was impairing performance. It sometimes involved firing them on the spot.==

    Yes yes - AMEN!

    Or a taking them out to the woodshed and yelling. Oh but thats considered bad or something now when in fact getting chewed out was often the only way i learned.


  9. - NannyState - Wednesday, Sep 26, 18 @ 12:03 pm:

    Name says it all.


  10. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Sep 26, 18 @ 12:53 pm:

    - low level - Wednesday, Sep 26, 18 @ 11:43 am:

    Sounds like a personal problem


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