Community Government

Committee denies Caldier’s appeal, orders ‘remedial training in respectful workplace expectations’

Posted on May 23rd, 2024 By: Jerry Cornfield

This article is reprinted with permission from the Washington State Standard, a nonprofit publication covering policy and politics in Olympia. Read more here.

A Washington state lawmaker accused last year of bullying and berating employees has been told she must undergo remedial training on proper workplace conduct before her access to legislative staff is fully restored.

Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Gig Harbor, was found in a December report to have violated the House Respectful Workplace policy that bans verbal abuse and bullying. At the time, her direct access to caucus and policy staff was halted after allegations emerged that she retaliated against three witnesses by revealing their names to reporters.

Appeal denied

Last week, the bipartisan House Executive Rules Committee denied Caldier’s appeal of the investigative findings and informed her the staff restrictions will remain in place until she undergoes “remedial training in respectful workplace expectations as well as constructive conflict coaching,” said Chief Clerk of the House Bernard Dean.

Asked whether she’d complete the training, Caldier said Tuesday that she was focused on her re-election campaign and hadn’t given it much thought.

“I still have not seen the email that was sent to the press regarding the training,” she said. “I am sure I will learn all about it when I read your article.”

Caldier also noted she’s had access to her legislative assistant during the investigations.

She added that she will not appeal findings that she violated House policies by revealing identities of three people interviewed for the December investigation whose names had been redacted. The policy aims to protect against retaliation by assuring anonymity for those who submit a complaint or serve as a witness in an investigation.

First elected in 2014, Caldier represents the 26th Legislative District which includes Gig Harbor, Purdy, the Key Peninsula, South Kitsap and parts of Bremerton.

‘No point’ in further appeal

She has said the episode is a byproduct of her disagreement with the former caucus leader, Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, which led her to leave the caucus in the 2023 session. She also said she suffered discrimination when the state – specifically her caucus and the Office of the Chief Clerk – failed to accommodate her disability of declining eyesight.

In an email Tuesday, Caldier said “there is no point” to appeal any further.

“No legislator has ever survived this ‘investigation’ process because it is not a fair process and [is] designed to punish members by destroying their reputation when leadership has an issue with them,” she wrote.

She said she is hopeful “the public can see through the lies that have been written about me. Sometimes, doing the right thing and standing up for yourself is a more difficult path to take,” she wrote.