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Former Oregon Department of Safety Standards director charged with sexual harassment

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) has filed suit against John Minnis, the former director of the Oregon Department of Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), charging him with sexual harassment of his executive assistant and creating a hostile work environment.

Minnis, who is married to former Oregon House Speaker Karen Minnis, was charged with providing his assistant with pay raises in exchange for his unwelcome sexual advances, which included pressuring her to drink vodka despite knowing that she is an alcoholic and coming on to her in a hot tub and in his hotel room on work-related trips. 

According to the BOLI complaint, “In March 2009, Respondent Minnis and Doe attended a work-related conference in Welches, Oregon.  During the course of that trip, Respondent Minnis was with Doe when she consumed alcohol.  After Doe consumed the alcohol she lost consciousness, and awoke to find that Respondent Minnis was present and that she was not wearing clothes.  Respondent Minnis tried to get into bed with Doe, and asked if he could touch her; she said no.”

Minnis resigned as director of DPSST on Nov. 24, 2009, the day after state prosecutors opened a criminal investigation against him.  The DPSST is responsible for training and licensing the state’s police officers, fire fighters and other public safety officials. 

The BOLI Commissioner, Brad Avakian, said, “BOLI’s investigation has revealed information painting an alarming picture of the harassment that Jane Doe endured at DPSST.  State agencies and their management must be held to the highest standards, and all Oregonians need to have confidence that their rights to a safe, harassment-free workplace will be protected.”

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Former Oregon Department of Safety Standards director charged with sexual harassment
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