Politics

Sherman Changes Office Policy After Staffer Accused of Harassment

New approach will have senior staffers ask junior ones of same gender if they’ve seen anything

Former aide Matt Dababneh, left, then a California state assemblyman, appears with Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., at a town hall meeting last February. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

California Rep. Brad Sherman said he would change his office’s policy on reporting sexual harassment following allegations against a former staffer.

Sherman’s former aide Matt Dababneh, who resigned from the California Assembly last month, faced multiple allegations of sexually harassing women while he worked in Sherman’s office.

Sherman told the Los Angeles Times no one reported Dababneh’s behavior to him or other staff, nor did they report his activity to the Office of Congressional Ethics.

The California Democrat said starting this month, senior staffers will ask more junior ones whether they saw or experienced any conduct that made them uncomfortable.

Watch: Former Congresswomen Reflect on Sexual Harassment Issues

“People are more comfortable talking to someone of their own gender, and so we’re having a senior female employee who’s going to be asking females, a senior male employee is going to be asking males, at least every six months, we may make it every three months,” Sherman told the Times. 

Sherman’s previous approach was to give new staffers a copy of the office’s harassment policy, but sexual harassment training was voluntary and not all staffers participated in it. 

“You don’t need a course to tell you that the things that Matt Dababneh is accused of are just reprehensible,” he said.

But Samantha Corbin, a lobbyist and organizer for the “We Said Enough” campaign to push for harassment reforms in California’s government, said she would prefer a more uniform policy on Capitol Hill and that the survey be conducted by a third party.

“The approach of asking same-gendered senior staff to inquire from their own junior staff whether or not they’ve been victimized within the office lacks the independence that would invite candor and runs the risk of intimidating junior staffers [into] silence or fear of superiors in whose hands their careers lie,” she said

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