Sexual harassment is extremely serious no matter who is committing it. When the perpetrators are the very people whose responsibility it is to protect society’s interest, it can be extremely alarming. The House of Representatives has finally reached an agreement with the Senate to reform the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 to focus more on victims, improve transparency, increase accountability, and improve the adjudication process.
Unsurprisingly, the interest in reforming Congress’s sexual harassment policies has come in the wake of the very strong #MeToo movement, as well as instances of lawmakers using official funds to settle claims of harassment. Senator Amy Klobuchar explained that the current legislation has failed people during the time when they need support the most. One of the biggest sticking points that has left the reform in a state of limbo has been how the law should hold members accountable for their actions.
Extent of Reform
The House-passed bill would hold members personally liable for both harassment as well as discrimination settlements, though the Senate’s version would only do so for cases of harassment. Senators argue that discrimination should be left off the reform, as the government should be responsible to oversee any internal instances of discrimination, just as any company in the private sector would do. They assert that discrimination is broader and therefore, much harder. The bill would also eliminate a waiting period for reporting discrimination and offers immediate counseling. This includes interns and fellows who were not included in the previous Act.
Though taxpayers would still be paying for any discrimination settlements, this would no longer be the case for all harassment and retaliation cases. Representative Jackie Speier, who has been leading efforts in the House of Representatives, promised that the documents would be available for public viewing. Additionally, the bill would include a required review by the House or Senate Ethics committee for any settlement made and an annual report on any settlements involving members.
The bill has been sent to President Trump to sign. It is still unclear as to whether the reform will be voted simply as a stand-alone bill or whether it will be attached to other government funding issues in the House.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Victims of Sexual Harassment
If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual harassment, it is not something that you must just accept. Not only is such behavior reprehensible, but it is also illegal. At Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C., our Cherry Hill employment lawyers will fight for your rights. You deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, especially in the workplace. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 215-569-1999 today. Located in Pennsauken, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout South Jersey.