Report calls for greater oversight in the Ohio AG's office

Legal News Line Sep. 8, 2008, 12:20pm

Nancy Rogers (D)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline)-A new report in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal in the Ohio attorney general's office calls for increased oversight. The 14-page report by an independent commission led by lawyer Robert Duncan also suggests that supervisors should be prohibited from dating their subordinates. Additionally, the Ohio attorney general's office should establish "clear and broad criteria" to be used objectively when potential new hires are being considered. These include background and criminal checks and tax and civil liabilities. The report comes after first-term Democratic Attorney General Marc Dann resigned in May amid criticisms for the way he ran his office. Attorney General Nancy Rogers, who was appointed after Dann's resignation, wrote that her office "already has addressed particular problems and implemented many crucial changes." The report says it took a hands-off approach to "matters related to past, alleged transgressions." It also recommends that the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) establish a committee to periodically examine the process and results found in reports from the AG's Human Resources Committee. This additional scrutiny "would provide…a layer of review of any ethical questions raised in AGO hiring practices." The report contains several committee "recommendations for strengthening the policies, procedures and practices of the AGO as it moves forward." While some suggestions are general in nature, the report makes clear that others are "more specific adjustments." Another section of the report relates to interpersonal relationships among AG employees. The report recommends the attorney general adopt a policy that would prohibit consensual romantic or sexual relationships between supervisors and underlings. However, "accommodations should be offered," including the right to request a transfer. The establishment of an Equal Employment Office independent from the office's Human Resources department was also suggested. Such a situation would inject increased objectivity into EEO complaints. In addition, sexual harassment training for managers was also recommended.

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