Condon settles sexual harassment ethics complaint

Condon settles sexual harassment ethics claim

SPOKANE, Wash. - The Spokane chapter of National Organization for Women (NOW) is withdrawing its complaint that Spokane Mayor David Condon covered up a sexual harassment complaint made against a former police chief.

The last minute settlement won some important concessions from the mayor. Some of them are reforms the mayor was already putting into place, but today's agreement commits those changes to a legally binding contract, which includes the mayor and his staff going through sexual harassment training.

On Wednesday, Mayor Condon was supposed to take the stand and answer questions under oath about how he handled a sexual harassment claim against former Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub.

"We had anticipated calling the mayor to task, publicly, for his decision to cover up a sexual harassment complaint last year at the expense of many female employees who worked for the Spokane Police Department," said Sherry Jones, NOW Sexual Harassment Committee Chair.

But, just 90 minutes before Condon was about to testify, NOW picked up some major concessions.

"To update the city's sexual harassment policies, require sexual harassment training for all city employees, including the mayor and his staff, and created an equal pay structure for all, regardless of gender," said Jones.

The agreement shows NOW was more interested in reforms than further embarrassing the Condon administration.

"Our feeling is that this settlement agreement and NOW's participation on these committees will really change how things work here at City Hall for the better," said Rick Eichstaedt with Spokane's Center for Justice.

Mayor Condon says he's also committed to changes. Ones that will safeguard existing employees and attract quality workers in the future.

"I'm absolutely committed to making sure that we have policies and procedures in place to where people can make sure in a very large employer, over 2,000 employees that we can rectify these situations ," said Condon.

The mayor concedes he's learned the hard way that if an employee makes a sexual harassment claim, their supervisor must pursue the allegation, even if the alleged victim doesn't want you going forward.

Mayor Condon says he welcomes representatives from NOW both on the task force that will deal with sexual harassment training and policies as well as the other task force dealing with equal pay and treatment for women and minorities. That group will take shape within the next 30 days.