US House to Adopt Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training for Members, Staffs

Nov 15, 2017, 00:42
US House to Adopt Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training for Members, Staffs

According to Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California), at least two sitting members of Congress - one Democrat and one Republican - have sexually harassed staffers on Capitol Hill. When the staffer arrived, he greeted her while wearing a towel, invited her in and exposed himself, Comstock said.

That staffer quit her job, Comstock said.

"There is a renewed recognition of this problem, rightfully, and a recognition of a culture that looks the other way because of who the offenders are", said Comstock.

Earlier this month, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), now a member of the House Democratic leadership, told The Associated Press that a male lawmaker had repeatedly ogled her and at one point inappropriately touched her on the House floor.

"What are we doing here for women right now who are dealing with somebody like that?"

Former Alabama Chief Justice and US Senate candidate Roy Moore waits to speak at the Vestavia Hills Public library, in Birmingham, Alabama, November 11, 2017.

One lawmaker, Republican Rodney Davis of IL, said that some female staffers in his office anxious that "some offices might take a shortcut and not hire women as a way to avoid these issues".

Both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell support ramping up sexual harassment training, as does House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

One possible solution to the issue has already been suggested - mandatory sexual harassment training for all lawmakers and their staff.

"There is no place for sexual harassment in our society, period".

"This type of behavior can not be tolerated", said Republican Chairman Gregg Harper of MS at the close of the hearing.

It comes amid growing calls for an overhaul of the way Congress handles allegations of sexual harassment, including a letter signed by more than 1,500 former Hill staffers who want to see reform for what they say are "inadequate" sexual harassment policies in Congress.

"All they ask in return as staff members is to be able to work in a hostile-free work environment", she continued.

Between 1997 and 2014, a little known Congressional fund paid out $15.2 million to 235 people who made sexual harassment claims in Congress.

The lawmaker said that now, if a victim of harassment were to report to the compliance office, they would first be required to undergo mandatory counseling for 30 days. "By the way. the general counsel of the House is representing the harasser".

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