End workplace harassment is Kirsten Anderson's mission - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

End workplace harassment is Kirsten Anderson's mission

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On several occasions, Kirsten Anderson, as Communications Director for the Iowa Republican Senate Caucus, complained about a toxic and hostile work environment.   (Watch the Kirsten Anderson interview, as seen on The Steele Report Sunday)  http://www.kwwl.com/category/256572/the-steele-report

She raised concerns of being bullied and being repeatedly sexually harassed by certain males within the caucus and on the caucus staff. She requested a thorough investigation of what she called “the sexually hostile work environment that exists here.”

Anderson had been hired as Communications Director in 2008. During her early years at the caucus, Anderson said she had never had any complaints regarding her final work product. She said there was never even a mention of any deficiency in her work, or than any improvements needed to be made. By all appearances, she was doing just fine.

But, after raising her concerns, Anderson's work as Communications Director suddenly started to come under fire. Supervisors said her work had not made satisfactory improvements. They said she needed to make fewer mistakes. She said one staffer told her she couldn't write at a high school level. She was kept out of key staff meetings.

She didn't realize it at the time, but she was being targeted for elimination from the male-dominated Iowa Republican Senate Caucus. Retaliation for raising her concerns.

In May of 2013, having had enough of it all, Anderson wrote a formal memo, outlining the behavior in what she called a boy's club atmosphere.

In her May 17, 2013, memo to SRC Staff Director, Eric Johansen, Anderson wrote,

"Given the sudden change, and what I believe to be an obvious pretextual basis for these negative comments, I am left to speculate what this is really about. I’m left with only one conclusion: my complaints about the boys’ club atmosphere in the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus. The failure to adopt meaningful policies regarding sexual harassment, among other things, and the continuously crude and hostile work environment I am forced to tolerate each and every day is what this is about. We have no real policy while senators and staff regularly and publically talk about women as object, their body parts as if detached from their bodies leaves me wondering what it will require for this environment to be cleaned up."

Within hours, Senator Bill Dix, Minority Leader at the time, fired Kirsten Anderson.

Dix was later quoted as saying, “Anderson was terminated only for her poor work product and absolutely no other reason.”

A stunned Kirsten Anderson saw it as retaliation, and, after agonizing over what to do, she decided to file a lawsuit.

Anderson knew she was taking a huge risk when she decided to sue a giant like the State of Iowa.

After careful consideration with her husband and family, she filed the suit, claiming sexual harassment and wrongful termination.

A jury agreed, ruling her supervisors had violated Iowa's 30-year old laws on workplace harassment, as well as retaliation and discrimination.

The jury originally awarded Kirsten Anderson $2.2 million, with the case eventually settled for $1.75 million in damages awarded to Ms. Anderson.

She talked about her case, the long court battle and her efforts to end workplace harassment on The Steele Report. http://www.kwwl.com/category/256572/the-steele-report

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