In January 2018, federal legislators introduced a new bill to overhaul the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, bringing it into the modern era. The bill was introduced by Democrat and Republican lawmakers hoping to make the sexual harassment reporting process for individuals working on Capitol Hill more transparent.
Discussions of such a bill began in late 2017, when the public spotlight on sexual harassment turned to politicians. The Committee on House Administration held numerous hearings about the current sexual harassment law, which many criticized for being opaque and failing to provide sufficient protection for victims. The new bill offers a greater level of protection for congressional staff members, interns, and fellows, as well as lawmakers themselves who accuse others on Capitol Hill of sexual harassment.
#MeToo Movement Inspiration
The MeToo movement is an ongoing social media campaign that encourages sexual harassment victims to come forward and share their experiences. By encouraging victims to discuss their experiences, the campaign hopes to remove the stigma that many victims feel after facing harassment and hold their harassers accountable for their actions. In 2017, six lawmakers who were accused of sexual harassment chose not to seek re-election or resigned amid the media attention sparked by the MeToo movement.
Protection for Victims, Accountability for Perpetrators
If the bill passes, legislators who settle sexual harassment claims will be required to pay the Treasury the full settlement figure within 90 days of settling. Those who fail to make their payments could have their wages garnished. This includes lawmakers who leave office while claims against them are pending. Legislators who face sexual harassment claims may not use their budgets to settle sexual harassment cases under this proposed law.
For victims, the bill aims to provide a safer, more productive workplace. Protection for victims proposed in the bill include the option to work remotely while their claims are pending, an advocate strictly dedicated to providing legal assistance and consultations to staffers pursuing sexual harassment claims, and a rebranding of the Office of Compliance as the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights. With this change, the new version of the Office would publish lists of awards and settlements related to sexual harassment claims. This list would include the employing offices of involved parties, the amount for which they settled, the violation invoked in their claim, and whether the accused lawmaker repaid the Treasury the settlement amount they owed.
South Jersey Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Victims Seeking Compensation for Their DamagesSexual harassment happens in every type of workplace, including government and private sector. If you faced sexual harassment on the job, fill out our online form or call 215-569-1999 to schedule your initial consultation with a South Jersey sexual harassment lawyer of Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Our office is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and we work with clients throughout the state of New Jersey.