Lawmakers own up to the need for change in their sexual harassment complaint process.
Congress is finally considering legislation to solve its sexual harassment problem.
Over the past three months, at least six members of Congress have been accused of sexually harassing congressional staff. Among them is a member of the very committee tasked with investigating members of Congress accused of harassment, Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), now embroiled in his own scandal — doling out thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded settlement money to a former aide he said was his “soul mate.”
The sudden media attention on these cases revealed an astonishingly complicated, expensive, and long process that victims must endure to have their complaints heard inside Congress or in front of a district judge. A bipartisan group unveiled a bill this month that would dramatically change this process by eliminating “cooling off periods,” lifting a rule barring victims from going straight to court, and providing an attorney to victims who go through the internal process, a resource members of Congress receive.
The bill, the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, would also force members of Congress guilty of sexual harassment to pay back the Treasury for any settlement money given to victims.
If the legislation passes, it would fundamentally change an archaic system that attorneys who have represented victims of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill say is stacked against them. But it’ll be up to Congress to pass it — and then actually enforce it.
And while some attorneys who have represented victims of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill believe the new bill is a good start, others think the new legislation is worse than the Congressional Accountability Act it’s intending to reform. The disagreement over how to reform the complaint process — or even if the complaint process is the best Read More Here