No formal accusation has been filed against State Representative Matt Wingard after a former staffer went public this week with claims Wingard coerced her into a relationship.
Samantha Berrier says Wingard pressured her into a sexual relationship when she was working for him in 2010. House rules forbid things like graphic comments and sexual displays. They don't expressly forbid relationships between supervisors and subordinates, unless any threat is made against an employee's wages or employment. This mirrors the rules that govern harassment complaints across the state. Bob Estabrook with the Bureau of Labor and Industry says while many organizations have policies forbidding interoffice relationships because of the potential for problems, the law doesn't explicitly rule them out.
Estabrook explained, "The distinction we'd be looking for is whether the individual is being harmed. A situation where someone makes a suggestive comment, and the subordinate says I'm not interested and that's the end of the matter - that's not going to be a big sexual harassment case."
Estabrook says the statute of limitations has run out on events that occurred in 2010.
Wingard has issued several statements, saying the relationship was consensual and accusing Berrier of lying to investigators about his actions.