There is absolutely no place for sexual harassment in our society – especially not in the United States Congress. As your elected representatives, we should be held to an even higher standard that demonstrates we are worthy of your trust and the honor of serving you.
Reform is necessary because the laws are outdated and inaction is unacceptable.
The House is taking this matter very seriously, and our actions reflect that.
The Committee on House Administration led a comprehensive review of the laws, procedures, and resources relating to sexual harassment in the House of Representatives.
“We must overhaul outdated laws that do not adequately protect employees and victims of harassment, so we can ensure the congressional workplace is safe and welcoming to all. I believe the CAA Reform Act is a step in that direction. It will strengthen transparency and accountability, create new protections for employees, and prevent taxpayer funds from being used to pay settlements.”
The first steps in this review included requirements for all House members and staff to complete mandatory anti-harassment training. Now the House is leading on two more steps to create a safe and welcoming work environment on Capitol Hill.
The first bill we passed today was H. Res. 724 which requires employing offices in the House to adopt anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy for each respective workspace. They must also establish the Office of Employee Advocacy to provide legal assistance and consultation to employees.
The second bill from today, the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act (H.R. 4924) amends the Congressional Accountability Act to bring more transparency, accountability, and stronger protections for employees.
Once adopted, this legislation will:
- Protect employees by providing them with immediate access to a dedicated advocate who provides legal consultation, representation and assistance. Ensures confidentiality in reporting process, and access to paid leave without fear of retribution among other things.
- Streamline and strengthen the dispute resolution and reporting process by eliminating the mandatory counseling and mediation provisions allowing an employee to proceed to an investigation immediately.
- Hold members of Congress personally responsible for any sexual harassment award or settlement.
- Strengthen transparency by requiring the OOC to report and publish information on awards and settlements.
The House is leading this change because we believe it is essential.We will not tolerate harassment in the workplace. Our colleagues, our employees, and our constituents deserve better.