The Office of Legislative Workplace Relations: Neutral, Nonpartisan, Confidential

by Ben FitzSimons and Michael Pearsall

In 2019, the Colorado General Assembly voted to create an office to provide human resources services within the Capitol. (§ 2-3-511, C.R.S.) This office was designed to serve anyone working, volunteering, testifying, or visiting the Capitol complex. This includes, but is not limited to, state legislators, legislative aides and interns, legislative branch staff (both partisan and nonpartisan), Capitol building staff, and some third parties including lobbyists, members of the media, and individuals testifying before legislative committees.

The mission of the Office of Legislative Workplace Relations (OLWR) is to provide neutral, nonpartisan, and confidential support in conflict and complaint resolution within the work environment. The OLWR was developed after considerable research and feedback from experts, consultants, and an interim legislative committee.

Located in Room 026, in the northwest quadrant of the Capitol basement, the OLWR is currently led by the office director, Ben FitzSimons, with the assistance of legislative support specialist, Michael Pearsall. Both Ben and Michael are committed to the office’s mission of providing professional conflict resolution and support in a neutral, nonpartisan, and confidential manner.

The OLWR provides a number of specialized services within the Colorado General Assembly. These include:

  • Confidential consultation, facilitation, and resolution planning for workplace issues and concerns. This includes working with legislators and supervisors to help resolve concerns or issues with their staff members and working with staff members (including aides, interns, partisan and nonpartisan staff, and volunteers) to help resolve questions or concerns about the work environment or their supervisors.
  • Confidential consultation regarding corrective/disciplinary action and planning. In addition, the OLWR can review or draft documents related to performance management and resolution of personnel issues.
  • Harassment complaint intake, investigation, and resolution. Any person who is covered by the Colorado General Assembly’s Workplace Harassment or Workplace Expectations policies may speak confidentially with the OLWR regarding questions or concerns about behaviors that may fall under the policy. The OLWR will help to assess concerns to determine which policy they may fall under, discuss what options may be available for resolving the concerns, talk through what the various options may look like, and manage or coordinate any resolution processes pursuant to the policies under which the concerns fall.
  • Workplace training, including:
    • Annual workplace harassment and expectations training for all legislators, staff, and third parties;
    • Manager/Supervisor training – this includes topics like coaching, providing effective feedback, and effective meeting management; and
    • Other professional development training – this includes topics like effective training skills, introduction to project management, leadership, and workplace ethics.
  • Other employee relations services, including:
    • Employee engagement – working with management to brainstorm and implement programs and practices designed to ensure that staff feel connected and committed to their roles and agencies;
    • Succession planning – working with management to brainstorm and implement plans for providing their staff with the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to fill high-level internal positions as the individuals in those roles retire or move on;
    • Personnel policy reviews and recommendations – this includes reviewing for best practices, legal compliance, and consistency; and
    • Exit interviews for departing staff – this includes collecting feedback confidentially and reporting data back to agencies without providing the individual identities of those interviewed.
  • Organizational development services, including:
    • Provision or coordination of organizational development services to teams or agencies;
    • Team or individual coaching;
    • Customized team-building programs or exercises; and
    • Team-based leadership development training and projects.
  • General Assembly Coordinator for Americans with Disabilities Act accommodation. The OLWR:
    • Serves as the initial point of contact for members of the public seeking accommodation in order to participate in or observe the legislative process; and
    • Oversees the formal and informal processes for grievances filed under the policy.

Please feel welcome to contact the OLWR with any questions or concerns regarding any of the processes listed above. Both Ben and Michael would be more than happy to assist in any way possible.

You may contact the OLWR by email at olwr.ga@state.co.us or call (303) 866-3393. You may also visit the office in person in Room 026 of the basement level of the Capitol building.