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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate Passed May 24th, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
    IntroducedMay 24th, 2018

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What is it?

This bill would reform the process used to handle claims of sexual harassment or other workplace discrimination in Congress. It’d eliminate the mandatory counseling and mediation periods of the current process, require lawmakers to personally repay settlements stemming from their actions, and ensure employees are educated about their workplace rights.

Process Reforms

Several elements of the current sexual harassment and workplace discrimination claim process would be eliminated, including the mandatory 30-day “counseling” period, the mandatory 30-day mediation phase, and the 30-day “cooling off” period.

The new process would allow a victim to immediately pursue as the initial stage mediation, either with an administrative hearing through the Office of Compliance (OOC, renamed from the OCWR) or a civil action in federal district court. The employee would still have the option to engage in mediation, but wouldn’t be required to. Employees would also be able to consult with a confidential advisor (an attorney with relevant experience in workplace law) for assistance in navigating the claims process and their options.

Employee Protections

Employees would have immediate access to a dedicated advocate who will provide consultation and assistance throughout proceedings through the OOC. They would also be permitted to request remote work and paid leave without fear of retribution. Notification of employee rights would be required to be posted by all legislative branch employing offices. OOC would be required to establish an electronic system for taking in claims by victims, tracking those claims throughout the process, and generating reports on various details of claims.

Additional support for state, district, and regional legislative branch staff would be provided to ensure they have the same access to OOC resources, training opportunities, guidance, and advice as Washington D.C. based legislative branch workers. Protections would be extended to unpaid staff including interns, detailees, and fellows as well as staff working on legislative branch commissions.

Accountability

Members of the House and Senate would be held personally accountable for repaying awards and settlements stemming from acts of harassment they personally commit. Members who leave office would still be responsible for repayment, including through the garnishment of non-government wages and retirement annuities to ensure full repayment.

Public reports of OOC awards and settlements that include identification of whether a member of Congress has properly reimbursed the U.S. Treasury would be required. Awards and settlements would be automatically referred to the Ethics Committee when there is a claim against a member or senior staff. The Ethics Committee would have to review and approve settlements of harassment claims against a member within 90 days.

Additionally, an annual survey of staff each Congress would be required to examine the workplace culture on Capitol Hill.

Impact

Victims; the public; members of Congress; the OOC; and Congress.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced this bill to reform Congress’s process for handling sexual harassment and workplace discrimination claims, protect workers, increase transparency, and hold members of Congress accountable:

“Workplace harassment is a widespread problem that affects too many men and women in too many places, professions, and industries. Congress isn’t immune to it -- for too long victims of workplace harassment in the Senate have been forced into a process that is stacked against them. That’s why for months we have been working with a bipartisan group of senators to change the process. This legislation will help bring accountability and transparency to a broken process, ensure victims can immediately seek justice, and hold Members of Congress accountable.”

Original cosponsor Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) added:

“This bipartisan agreement sends a clear message that harassment in any form will not be tolerated in the U.S. Congress. The major reforms in this agreement will, first and foremost, strengthen protections for harassment victims. The agreement will also enhance accountability and prevent taxpayers from footing the bill for a Member’s misconduct.”

This legislation passed the Senate on a voice vote the day it was formally introduced, and has the support of 43 bipartisan cosponsors including 26 Democrats and 17 Republicans.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: sborisov / iStock)

AKA

Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act

Official Title

A bill to amend the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 to establish protections against congressional sexual harassment and discrimination, and for other purposes.

    It amazes me this wasn’t the way it was to begin with. To use our tax dollars to litigate, settle and cover up sexual harassment and misconduct committed by these scumbag politicians is abhorrent to say the least. FULL DISCLOSURE AND ACCOUNTABILITY AND NOT FROM DATE OF SIGNING FORWARD, RETROACTIVE AS WELL.
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    Should be retroactive!!
    Like (59)
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    It doesn't go far enough and it's about 100 years late, but still I applaud the Senate for passing this much needed bipartisan bill. Sexual harassment has no place in any society.
    Like (51)
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    YES YES YES!!!! If you do the crime you should pay for it not the taxpayers!!
    Like (41)
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    Everyone is responsible for his or her own actions. The government needs to set the tone and be held to a higher standard, especially in the case of sexual assault and harassment. Public office comes with this responsibility and anyone with a history of complaints or charges of sexual misconduct should not be given reprieve or financial help. Congress needs to be a safe place where our elected officials are able to represent the people’s needs without the fear of harassment. Get it done.
    Like (21)
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    DEFINITELY! These people think they are royalty! They are TRASH and THIEVES! Pay up F*CKERS!
    Like (17)
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    Passed on a voice vote? Why wouldn't you want your vote recorded?!
    Like (12)
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    Why should I pay for their bad behaviors
    Like (10)
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    This long overdue, bipartisan bill makes clear that Congress has no tolerance for workplace sexual harassment or discrimination while protecting victims. It also ensures that lawmakers can’t use taxpayer funds to repay settlements stemming from their misconduct.
    Like (9)
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    It is about time that Congressional perpetrators are held personally accountable, financially, for their misdeeds.
    Like (8)
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    Why would taxpayers pay for lawsuits against their congressmenandwomen its ridiculous.
    Like (7)
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    Stop the illegal use if tax payer money for sexual harrassment claims
    Like (7)
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    This long overdue, bipartisan bill makes clear that Congress has no tolerance for workplace sexual harassment or discrimination while protecting victims. It also ensures that lawmakers can’t use taxpayer funds to repay settlements stemming from their misconduct. We do need FULL,ACCOUNTABILITY and FULL DISCLOSURE.5*25*18
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    Why should the people of this country pay for federal employees who sexually harass people. That is ridiculous. It should be a given that people who do the crime should do the time or pay for what he did in the crime. OH. And make this retroactive for everyone who has used OUR MONEY to pay for Sexual Harassment before.
    Like (6)
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    Let Congressmen live under exactly the same laws they impose on the country.
    Like (5)
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    Why in hell should they get to use taxpayer money to handle their misconduct? Another example of government privilege in which politicians aren’t held to the same standards as the people they’re supposedly employed by. Make them accountable for their own actions
    Like (5)
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    Taxpayers should never have to.pay for the bad and illicit behavior of their reps. They don't pay for any of my obligations.
    Like (5)
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    My tax dollars should not go to a settlement
    Like (4)
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    This is a no brainer. Of course, the individual who steps over bounds should be responsible for cleaning up his/her own mess, not the tax payers!
    Like (4)
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    This was a no-brainer! Having the tax payer, you and me, pay off settlements of perps working for the government? You make your bed, you own it, and you PAY for it too!
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