State Sen. Tate found not in violation of harassment policy

Claim against state senator will not lead to consequences

Posted 4/8/18

After an independent investigation found sexual-harassment claims made against state Sen. Jack Tate by a former state House intern “more likely than not” to be accurate, the top Senate lawmaker …

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State Sen. Tate found not in violation of harassment policy

Claim against state senator will not lead to consequences

Posted

After an independent investigation found sexual-harassment claims made against state Sen. Jack Tate by a former state House intern “more likely than not” to be accurate, the top Senate lawmaker said he did not find that Tate violated sexual-harassment policy.

“I have determined that corrective action based on this complaint is unwarranted, and that this investigation is therefore concluded,” state Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, wrote in a letter dated March 29 explaining his decision to Tate, R-Centennial. Grantham's assessment “supports a different conclusion than those reached” by the independent investigation, he wrote.

The accuser had claimed Tate engaged in behavior ranging from up-and-down looks to nudges that made her uncomfortable.

Grantham wrote that he had been advised that three of the allegations — including nudging her and acting flirtatious — “do not in any way allege a violation of our workplace-harassment policy.”

The other allegation, that Tate was alone in an elevator with the then-18-year-old and said, “I like the way that skirt looks on you,” could be construed as a violation of the policy, Grantham wrote. But he said the specifics of the allegation weren't consistent as reported in the written complaint, to the media and in the independent investigation.

“As such, there is no definitive determination that the policy was violated,” wrote Grantham.

Tate commented in a statement April 6.

"I am grateful that this challenging situation has come to a conclusion," Tate said.

The Employers Council, a company that facilitates sexual-harassment training for Colorado lawmakers and investigates harassment claims in the Legislature, conducted the independent investigation. It found the accusations “more likely than not” to be accurate, according to a report on the investigation obtained by Colorado Community Media.

Such investigations use the language “more likely than not” or “less likely than so” to weigh claims. That method is based on the preponderance-of-evidence standard used in most civil-court cases on equal-employment opportunity matters, according to a state House memo by Majority Leader KC Becker, D-Boulder.

Sexual comments or innuendos about a person's clothing, body or sexual activity can constitute verbal sexual harassment, according to the Legislature's workplace-harassment policy. Patting, pinching or intentionally brushing against a person's body can constitute physical sexual harassment, according to the policy.

After the investigation phase, it's up to top lawmakers to decide whether the facts support the allegations, whether the actions violate the Legislature's rules and what consequence they may warrant.

In late February, Grantham said officials were reviewing their options to bring the investigation process to a close. The first version of the report was returned to correct an “obvious error,” Grantham said. Grantham said that initial version may have come out in January and that multiple iterations of the report were made. A version obtained by Colorado Community Media is dated Jan. 31. Tate clarified that there were two versions of the report made and that the Jan. 31 version is the second iteration.

Grantham leveled criticism at reports by the Employers Council, claiming there are problems with their “reliability, accuracy and fairness.”

Ultimately, the Employers Council did not issue a further update to the report, Tate said.

At the time, Grantham did not voice issue with specific points in the report due to confidentiality rules surrounding the sexual-harassment complaint protocol. That process is confidential until top lawmakers issue a final decision. Concerns raised to the Employers Council centered around the validity of the evidence in leading to the conclusions the investigation reached.

The investigation was based on interviews with the accuser, Tate and two individuals who worked in the legislative session and were familiar with the accuser or Tate.

In such investigations, possible punishment, if given, could run the gamut from an apology to a more serious sanction.

Tate had already participated in the required workplace-harassment seminar and an additional voluntary seminar with the Senate majority caucus, Grantham wrote, adding that corrective action was unwarranted “in light of my review, and the seminars already attended.”

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