Gov. Evers defends not having policy against supervisors dating staffers
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --Gov. Tony Evers is defending his office not having any policies in place that ban workplace relationships between supervisors and staffers working under them.
The Legislature and many other employers have strict guidelines that prohibit these types of romantic relationships, but Evers said it shouldn't concern anyone that his office doesn't, even though some experts believe it can lead to claims of sexual harassment, favoritism or other workplace disruptions.
CBS 58 asked Evers about why his office should not have such policies in place after the Journal Sentinel first reported Evers' chief of staff, Maggie Gau, is dating a senior employee who she directly supervises.
"First of all, we have to respect the rights of individuals that we're working with," Evers said. "I feel very confident my work with this small group of people, 30-some people, it's not like hundreds of hundreds of people that I base my analysis on what their worth is to the governor's office on their performance. Not on who they are married to, who they are not married to or anything."
"I think we can get by without some sort of thing that invades people's privacy," Evers said. "It's as simple as that. I don't think it's necessarily my job, nor is it your job, or the media's job or anybody else on [bringing up] sexual orientation and the like."
The Journal Sentinel's article never mentioned the gender or sexual identity of the staffer involved.
The governor also reiterated he didn't believe the relationship was "creating a difficult environment" in his office after the report mentioned some employees felt they couldn't raise concerns to Gau about her partner.
"I don't believe that," said Evers. "I've never had a worker come to me and I'm in the office often enough that they could have said that people had some problems with it."
He added, "I know the people that the media are attacking, and they are both good workers. I appreciate them being a part of the team."
The Assembly and Senate are subject to guidelines that prohibit consensual relationships between supervisors and subordinates.
The policy states, "sexual, romantic, or intimate relationships between persons in a supervisor/subordinate relationship that appear to be voluntary and welcome may nonetheless constitute sexual harassment under this definition."
It goes on to say, "relationships between a supervisor and those employees whom he or she supervises may give rise to legal and ethical concerns or a conflict."