The Congressional Office of Compliance released information on the amount of taxpayer funds used to settle cases of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. Between 2008 and 2012, Congress paid $115,000 to Congressional staffers who filed claims of sexual harassment while employed by a member of the House of Representatives. These funds were paid from the United States Treasury out of taxpayer dollars. The sum was only a fraction of the $17 million that the Office of Compliance has paid out over the past two decades.
Office of Compliance
The Office of Compliance (OOC) is the agency within Congress that handles workplace complaints. It typically does not make public the breakdown of how taxpayer dollars are spent. However, the public has put increasing pressure on the agency regarding the settlement of sexual harassment claims. The Office did not release the amounts used to settle specific accusations, or the identities of the lawmakers involved. According to the OOC, it is not legally authorized to release information about individual awards and settlements.
The OOC has stated, however, that eight settlements were paid out relating to sexual harassment or sexual discrimination during the five-year period. Claims based on discrimination totaled $59,000 in addition to the $115,000 paid out for sexual harassment claims. Media outlets have reported that most of the $115,000 was used to settle claims by two mail staffers who were both working for one former Congressman.
Now that the OOC is in the spotlight amid a recent spate of sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill, the agency has acknowledged that over the past 20 years it has paid out over $17 million to settle complaints in Congress and the Legislative Branch.
Push for Change
Although the OOC is limited to releasing only certain information relative to its oversight committees, as it did here relating to the House of Representatives, many are pushing for change. According to Chairman Harper, there are plans to introduce a bipartisan bill that would require members of the House of Representatives to reimburse taxpayers for settlements made on their behalf. There has also been a push to require the OOC to make settlement data public. For this to occur, the Legislature would need to change the law.
Chester County Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Victims of Discrimination and AssaultIt is unlawful to harass a job applicant or employee because of their sex. This can mean an unwanted sexual advance, a request for a sexual favor, or other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or sexual assault, we can help. Contact the experienced Chester County sexual harassment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. today to schedule your free consultation by calling us at 215-569-1999 or by contacting us online. We are centrally located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and we serve clients from the surrounding areas.