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The allegations of misconduct and sexism within the Colorado Judicial Branch that prompted the state Supreme Court to authorize an independent investigation are emblematic of a larger cultural problem within the branch, seven current and former employees told The Denver Post after the allegations were made public.
The women — who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect their careers — described a toxic work environment within their departments, and said a pervasive undercurrent of sexism influences how women in the branch are treated in ways that go beyond the dozen allegations by former Chief of Staff Mindy Masias laid out in a two- memo in Now, women within the branch are eyeing the effort warily, hopeful for change but unconvinced that the promised reform will be realized across the sprawling branch of state government.
The memo details misconduct by judges, probation officers and administrators, and lists examples of what Masias said was evidence of systemic harassment that she was prepared to make public in a sex discrimination lawsuit. The seven women who spoke to The Post described situations in which they believe male managers favored women based on their looks or how they dressed, men were held to a lower standard than women, and women in leadership perpetuated harmful or sexist attitudes. They said women who speak up about problems are retaliated against.
State Court Administrator Steven Vasconcellos said in a statement that the judicial department wants to remedy any gender-based mistreatment of its employees. In late February, Vasconcellos told employees in an they were free to speak to Post reporters, according to copies of the shared with the newspaper.
If you decide to talk with a reporter about this matter, please keep in mind that the Judicial Department Code of Lady wants sex CO Aurora 80016 prohibits employees from sharing non-public information about the department such as case information. But the current and former employees who spoke to The Post said women who complain about problems within the department are often disbelieved, told they are taking the wrong tone, making a problem out of nothing, or behaving inappropriately. One employee pointed to a secretly recorded conversation between then Chief Justice Nancy Rice and Masias after Masias was passed over for promotion.
The man told her she could quit if the working environment was as untenable as she described. She was laid off last year. The branch includes the state court system, from county courts up through the Colorado Supreme Court, as well as probation and the Office of the State Court Administrator. The Post reached out through phone calls, word-of-mouth and online messages to more than three dozen current and former employees to ask about their working conditions. Many did not respond, and some women contacted by The Post said they had not experienced any sexism on the job.
Those women declined to comment for this story. The seven women who did speak with The Post held jobs throughout the branch, including in administration, the probation department and in the courts. On average, women make up more than three-quarters of branch employees, but are underrepresented in leadership roles, according to a Post analysis of data provided by the judicial department.
Inmen made up about a quarter of the branch, but held nearly half of jobs titled as judges, executives, managers, supervisors or chiefs, that analysis showed. Vasconcellos disputed that analysis in his statement, and said judges should not be included in the count of people holding leadership positions — only chief justices or chief judges. Excluding nearly judges, who are appointed by the governor and not hired by the judicial department, the disparity is less pronounced. Any disparity between genders in leadership would be concerning at any organization, said Nancy Bornn, an attorney and independent workplace investigator based in California.
The eight-person panel will draft a request for proposal, which will then be open for bids for about a month before the investigators are selected. This is discrimination, this is harassment, this is unlawful conduct.
Updated p. By Shelly Bradbury sbradbury denverpost.
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