Inquiry needed to restore confidence in state's handling of harrassment complaints

The Green Party says an inquiry is needed to investigate whether the State Services Commission followed due process in handling a complaint against CERA boss Roger Sutton, in a bid to restore confidence in the State Sector’s handling of sexual harassment complaints.

The Green Party says an inquiry is needed to investigate whether the State Services Commission followed due process in handling a complaint against CERA boss Roger Sutton, in a bid to restore confidence in the State Sector’s handling of sexual harassment complaints.

“Actions by the State Service Commissioner and two Government Ministers over Mr Sutton’s resignation have fuelled the perception that Mr Sutton has been hard done by,” Green Party State Services Spokesperson Denise Roche said.

“Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee announced Sutton’s resignation in a press release on November 17, saying that Sutton’s behaviour ‘failed to meet the standard’, but without even mentioning that he was guilty of serious misconduct.

“We are left with this damaging impression that neither the public service nor National Government Ministers take sexual harassment allegations seriously.

“It is hard to imagine that a woman suffering workplace harassment in the public service would feel confident coming forward and complaining now.

“There are good processes in place for handling complaints of workplace harassment. An inquiry is needed to establish whether those processes were followed properly in this case and, if they were, why Mr Sutton was given a platform to breach confidentiality and minimise his own behaviour, despite the Commissioner being advised not to allow him to speak at the press conference.

“It is also disappointing that the new State Services Minister Paula Bennett has not issued a public ‘please explain’ to the Commissioner, instead leaving it up to the Human Rights Commission.

“Women working in the public sector need to know that the Government has their back,” Ms Roche said.

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