* From the House Democrats…
Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, in collaboration with an advisory group of women members of the House Democratic Caucus, today released – in full – an unredacted report prepared by Maggie Hickey, a former federal prosecutor and Inspector General for Governor Rauner, detailing the findings of her independent review of the workplace culture within the Office of the Speaker and providing insight into the environment in the Capitol. In 2018, Speaker Madigan and an advisory group comprised of female members requested Hickey conduct a thorough review of prior allegations of harassment and make recommendations for improvements.
“I welcomed this independent review to better understand the workplace culture within the Office of the Speaker and to help improve the environment in the Capitol,” Madigan said. “I thank Ms. Hickey for her professionalism and commitment to this process, as well as the staff, House members, lobbyists, and others who were interviewed as part of this report.”
As part of her review, Hickey examined the operations of the Office of the Speaker, including the Office of the Clerk, and interviewed more than 100 current and former staff members, as well as members of the General Assembly and lobbyists. Those interviewed described interactions with co-workers and other individuals who are not employed by the Office, including those employed by other caucuses or elected officials, lobbyists, and members of the general public.
“I take responsibility for not doing enough previously to prevent issues in my office, and continue to believe that we, collectively, need to do more in the Capitol to improve our workplace culture and protect the women and men who work here who want to make a difference in the world,” Madigan said. “While the Office of the Speaker has taken many steps to improve and will work to adopt Ms. Hickey’s recommendations, Ms. Hickey’s report makes clear there is more to be done. As part of my full commitment to change the culture, I am ready to work with the other legislative caucuses to ensure that everyone has a safe workplace.”
Madigan said that issues with harassment in the workplace go beyond the Capitol. “This is an issue that affects all workplaces and individuals from all walks of life. We must vigilantly work to eliminate employment-related discrimination and harassment, and address workplace equality not only in the Capitol, but across Illinois.”
The members of the advisory group involved with Hickey’s selection issued a statement thanking those who participated in the review and reaffirming their commitment to change the culture. The advisory group includes Representatives Kelly Burke, Deb Conroy, Jehan Gordon-Booth, Lisa Hernandez, Camille Lilly, Theresa Mah, Natalie Manley, Ann Williams, and Kathleen Willis. Former Representative Melissa Conyears-Ervin was involved during her tenure. The advisory group will continue working with the Office of the Speaker on implementation of further reforms.
“We are grateful for those who have shared their own personal and often difficult experiences – both publicly and privately – in an effort to bring positive change to the Capitol work environment,” said Representative Ann Williams, on behalf of the group. “Each allegation made and every story told has contributed to the larger conversation, and underscores our commitment to rebuild our workplace on a foundation of respect for each and every individual. Though these findings were often difficult to read, the report further solidified our commitment to provide a professional and respectful workplace environment not just in our own House, but throughout the Capitol. As members of the House Democratic Caucus, we take responsibility, individually and collectively, to right these wrongs and ensure a safe, healthy, and respectful workplace for all who work there.”
Using criteria established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Hickey found the Capitol presents many challenges and risk factors that make harassment more likely to occur, and the report details the various challenges that employees and employers face in an environment such as the Capitol atmosphere. To combat this, Hickey recommends the Office of the Speaker should consider unique and innovative ways to address these challenges and risk factors, particularly by partnering with the other legislative caucuses, as well as other entities that interact with legislative staff. The report makes several recommendations for improvement, particularly given the unique challenges of employing a significant number of people who are young or new to the workforce.
“I commit to all of our staff, particularly those who are new to the workforce, that we will provide you with a supportive atmosphere that encourages professional growth and development, and that provides you with the necessary tools to thrive in our unique environment,” said Madigan in response to Hickey’s recommendations. “I want the Office to be a place where everyone is comfortable to bring forth allegations, knowing that they will be treated fairly and with compassion.”
In her report, Hickey found the Office of the Speaker has taken significant actions to address concerns and challenges faced by staff, and staff confirmed the environment has improved since the beginning of the #MeToo movement. Her report details actions taken by the Office of the Speaker and rank-and-file members (see pages 119-121 of the Hickey Report). A few of the key actions taken to change the environment for staff include:
Created a Human Resources Unit and hired an Equal Employment Opportunity Officer;
Improved the process for responding to and investigating allegations of discrimination or harassment, as well as general workplace complaints;
Conduct frequent trainings customized to addressing the unique challenges of the legislative environment (in additional to what is required by law);
Hold specialized training for supervisors, directors, and human resources staff;
Convene regular meetings with supervisors and staff, both on a one-on-one basis and in group settings;
Implemented numerous staffing changes and implemented an “open door policy” for the Chief of Staff, Human Resources personnel, and all directors;
Revised personnel policies, with continuous staff contact so all staff know the rules and their rights; and
Implemented additional skills training for staff to help employees become more confident in their skills and grow their career opportunities.
The Office intends to build upon the current momentum of these improvements by planning further actions, consistent with Hickey’s recommendations. For example, the Office plans to expand the Human Resources operation related to various training efforts, recruitment and onboarding processes, and general personnel management activities.
This post will be updated as I go through everything. Meanwhile, here are some documents to peruse…
* Advisory Group Statement
* Full report
…Adding… Bullying is a big problem over there…
The current and former workers in the Speaker’s Office that we interviewed, however, gave varying feedback regarding inappropriate sexual conduct in the Speaker’s Office. Female workers, for example, were more likely to describe personal experiences hearing inappropriate sexual comments. More workers, however, said that they had witnessed or personally experienced what they considered to be bullying. In fact, most workers across the Speaker’s Office and across genders and positions said that they were more concerned with bullying than with inappropriate sexual conduct.
What is more, the vast majority said that they would not have reported miscon- duct under the previous Chief of Staff Timothy Mapes, for various reasons detailed in this report. In addition to serving as Chief of Staff since 1992, Mr. Mapes was also the Clerk of the House since 2011 and the Executive Director of the Demo- cratic Party of Illinois since 1998. For this reason, workers were concerned that Mr. Mapes had discretion to affect their positions, opportunities, and benefits. In some cases, people believed that they were more replaceable than the subjects of their potential complaints. People were also concerned that making complaints would reflect negatively on them. Even though we identified only a few instances when the Speaker’s Office terminated a worker’s employment, workers commonly perceived that they could lose their jobs at any time and for any or no reason.
In fact, most of the people interviewed—regardless of their views of Mr. Mapes— agreed that Mr. Mapes commonly threatened people’s jobs or reminded them that they were dispensable. People believed that Mr. Mapes attempted to motivate workers through fear and that a few other supervisors throughout the years emu- lated this practice. Some people also raised the additional concern that, given Mr. Mapes’s political ties, he could make or break their careers outside of the Speaker’s Office as well.
* And yet…
On May 21, 2018, Representative Kelly Cassidy spoke to the media regarding allegations of retaliation against her by then-Chief of Staff and Clerk of the House Timothy Mapes, Representative Robert Rita, and Speaker Michael Madigan. Specifically, Representative Cassidy alleged that the following occurred in response to her public criticisms of how the Speaker’s Office handled sexual harassment claims:
● Mr. Mapes attempted to intimidate Representative Cassidy by contacting her outside employer and asking if she still worked there;
● Representative Rita sponsored a bill that was supported by Representative Cassidy’s outside employer, and he promoted the fact that Representative Cassidy did not support the bill with the intent to affect her outside employment; and
● Speaker Madigan rejected a meeting with Representative Cassidy and later appeared to threaten her committee positions.
Notably, during her interview, Representative Cassidy did not allege that Mr. Mapes, Representative Rita, and Speaker Madigan conspired to retaliate against her. Instead, Representative Cassidy alleged that the culture is one in which every- one independently knows to retaliate against anyone for publicly criticizing Speaker Madigan.
As a representative, Representative Cassidy did not have the same protections against retaliation as an employee would have. Still, even if she did have these protections, we do not find sufficient evidence to conclude that there was an effort—coordinated or otherwise—to punish or silence Representative Cassidy.
The evidence against Mapes was right in front of their eyes and others backed her up…
We heard from many representatives that they would have also interpreted Mr. Mapes’s phone call to be a threat or, at least, to be unusual and warranting an explanation. Likewise, we heard from many people who worked closely with Mr. Mapes who would consider that type of threatening behavior to be in line with his typical management style.
At a press conference in Chicago, on June 6, 2018, Account Technician Sherri Gar- rett made several allegations against Timothy Mapes, who was the Chief of Staff for the Speaker’s Office, Clerk of the House, and Executive Director of the Demo- cratic Party of Illinois (DPI):
Over the course of the last several years, I have endured and have personally witnessed bullying and repeated harassment that was often sexual and sexist in nature in my workplace. . . .
Tim Mapes, Chief of Staff to Speaker Madigan, has made repeated inappropriate comments to me and around me, both in the office and on the House floor. . . .
I am speaking out because victims of harassment like me, men and women alike, just want to go to work, we want to do our jobs with dignity, and we want to go home at the end of our day, but instead, we have a culture of sexism, harassment, and bullying that creates an incredibly difficult work environment.
The same day, Speaker Michael Madigan announced that, at his direction, Mr. Mapes had resigned from all of his positions.
Based on our investigation, we conclude that Mr. Mapes violated the Speaker’s Office’s Personnel Rules and Regulations with his treatment of Ms. Garrett. While we could not substantiate each one of Ms. Garrett’s interpretations of events, we found Ms. Garrett to be credible. We found that Mr. Mapes was not “courteous and efficient” with Ms. Garrett, among other workers. Most notably, Mr. Mapes discouraged Ms. Garrett from coming forward with a concern about potential sex- ual harassment by insinuating that Ms. Garrett was raising the issue only because she was jealous of the attention.
* Pretty good summation…
Most people believed that Mr. Mapes was efficient at getting things done. This appearance of efficiency was, at least in part, a product of the fear he engendered. But this fear was ultimately inefficient. Workers described that they were unable to raise concerns under Mr. Mapes’s leadership. Unless workers felt comfortable talking to Mr. Mapes directly, they would not raise concerns. Many workers said that there was no point in raising concerns to their supervisors, because they be- lieved that their supervisors had no authority and would be required to elevate issues to Mr. Mapes. Thus, many people believed that they could neither express concerns to Mr. Mapes directly nor raise concerns with their supervisors because they believed that Mr. Mapes would ultimately not take those concerns seriously.
Ms. Garrett alleged that, in the late evening near the end of session in spring 2013, then-Representative Kenneth Dunkin made an unwanted sexual comment to Ms. Garrett and another female worker on the House Floor. Specifically, Ms. Garrett alleged that Representative Dunkin told Ms. Garrett and the other woman some- thing like: “I want to take you both home and see which one of you would be the naughtiest.” Ms. Garrett was very upset, but was very busy and continued work- ing. Later that night, Ms. Garrett told then-Reading Clerk John Hollman about the incident to voice her frustration with Representative Dunkin and to say that she would not let it happen again.
*** UPDATE *** Rep. Kelly Cassidy…
As stated in the report, my main goal was to make the negative actions towards me stop, and they did. Others now feel safer coming forward to share their story without fear of retaliation. I am pleased overall and particularly that the Speakers’ office chose to share the full report with the public. It is the best path forward.