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Fired Iowa Senate aide alleges women “objectified…ridiculed” in workplace

(Radio Iowa News) – A woman who was fired Friday after working five years for Republicans in the Iowa Senate this morning said her statehouse workplace was “toxic.”

Kirsten Anderson went on a Des Moines television station Sunday morning to charge that she and her female co-workers have been subjected to harassment from senate staff and from senators, too.

“Things that would make you blush,” Anderson said. “Things that you don’t want your daughter, your mother, your sister having to put up with and that sort of attitude about women, objectifying women, it has to change.”

Ed Failor, Jr., the chief of staff for Senate Republicans, told Radio Iowa this afternoon that Anderson was approached early this year about the quality of her work and ”given an opportunity to improve,” but had been fired Friday for “substandard work performance” that had been documented over the past several months. Failor said sexual harassment “is not tolerated” under Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix’s leadership. Dix was elected as the top Republican leader in the Iowa Senate last November.

Anderson said she presented documentation of her own complaints to her supervisor on Friday, asking for changes in the “workplace environment” and “seven hours later I was fired.”

”When you go to the workplace, you should have a safe environment,” Anderson said on WHO-TV. “Women, especially, should not have their body parts scrutinized, objectified. People should not be ridiculed or mocked for simply the color of pants they’re wearing and those sorts of things were taking place at the capitol.”

According to Anderson, the harassment came from male staff and from “legislators as well.”

“…I feel it was extremely inappropriate,” Anderson said, “and constituents would not be happy that their legislators were saying these things.”

However, Anderson said she is “not ready right now to name names.”

“This is not about public embarrassment,” Anderson said. “…This is, I feel, bigger than that. My goal is to change the work environment at the capitol and I’m willing to do what it takes to change that work environment.”

Anderson had been one of the 11 members of the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus Staff who work for the 24 Republican state senators, helping chart legislation and craft political messages. Two other women work on the staff according to the office website, which still lists Anderson as “communications director” for the Senate Republican Caucus. Anderson was responsible for the maintainance of the website, which had not been updated since April 15.