Mayor Eric Garcetti
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Photo by John Schreiber.

A day after the Los Angeles City Council approved a “Workplace Equity Policy” for city employees, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an executive directive Thursday that his office said is aimed at implementing the policy and elevating the city’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

“This comprehensive policy outlines employees’ rights and responsibilities, and also cements the city’s commitment to fostering a workplace rooted in empathy, inclusion and mutual respect — values necessary for the city to recruit and retain employees who both reflect and understand the diverse communities they serve,” the mayor said.

The directive, which is the mayor’s 34th since taking office in 2013, expands the personnel department’s responsibility to prevent harassment and discrimination with a more systemic and preventative focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, according to the mayor’s office. It also establishes a new Equity Review Panel and the Office of Workplace Equity in the personnel department.

The policy approved by the City Council prohibits discrimination, harassment, bystander harassment, sexual harassment, retaliation, inequitable conduct, hazing, abusive conduct and bullying in the workplace, during working hours, and/or at work-related events.

The new policy also includes a protection to “ensure employees are empowered to report offensive conduct even if they are not the intended target,” according to a report by the City Administrative Officer. It also includes new protections that cover bullying and microaggressions.

The mayor’s executive directive aimed at improving the workplace comes as he is under fire of allegations that he knew about and ignored alleged instances of sexual harassment and assault against his former senior advisor.

In February, the nonprofit law firm Whistleblower Aid filed a complaint on behalf of Garcetti’s former communications director accusing the mayor of perjury while he was questioned during his nomination hearing in the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the sexual harassment allegations against his former advisor, Rick Jacobs.

Jacobs was accused in a 2020 lawsuit filed by Los Angeles Police Department Officer Matthew Garza, who claims Garcetti witnessed the misconduct but turned a blind eye to it.

Garcetti has denied the allegations in the past — and did so again during his hearing, telling the Senate panel he has a “zero tolerance” policy for sexual harassment. A city-commissioned report this month found no evidence that Jacobs acted inappropriately or that Garcetti was aware of anything inappropriate occurring, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has delayed Garcetti’s Senate confirmation hearing and is looking into the allegations, which he said he would continue to do through the Senate’s next recess ending on April 25, The Times reported.

Garcetti’s office did not mention the allegations against Jacobs in its announcement about the new Workplace Equity Policy and the mayor’s new executive directive. It said that the work to create the policy began in 2018 and was spearheaded by the Harassment and Discrimination Working Group under the mayor’s Risk Reduction Cabinet.

The policy was created by combining best practices and components from more than a dozen existing documents related to workplace conduct, the mayor’s office said. Under the policy, bully and microaggressions are prohibited, and the policy will be supported by mandatory training to ensure employees are aware of the rules.

“This Workplace Equity Policy represents the very best of who we are as a city government: inclusive, welcoming, fair and respectful,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who co-chairs the mayor’s Risk Reduction Cabinet “This policy reflects the hard work of departments across the city to fully embrace and encourage workplaces that celebrate diversity and thrive.”

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