Former Capitol Hill Staffers Call for Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training in Congress

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., center, speaks with Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., left, as they leave a Democratic gathering on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. Speier has recently gone public with an account of being sexually assaulted by a male chief of staff while she was a congressional …
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Hundreds of former Capitol Hill staffers are calling on Congress to require all members to undergo mandatory sexual harassment training as reports of inappropriate behavior surface in political circles, Hollywood, and among the media.

The former staffers wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and other congressional leaders calling for reform to current sexual harassment policies in Congress.

The letter added that Congress needs to do more to stop Capitol Hill’s harassment culture and prevent sexual harassment from occurring.

“We believe that Congress’s policies for preventing sexual harassment and adjudicating complaints of harassment are inadequate and need reform,” the letter reads. “Members of Congress and Chiefs of Staff should be made aware of their responsibility for preventing and reporting cases of sexual harassment and the [Office of Compliance] should have the authority to investigate complaints of abuse or harassment.”

The letter gained 605 signatures as of Tuesday evening, and one signer noted that those who started the letter planned to present it to congressional leaders once it hit 300 signatures.

Travis Moore, a former legislative director for former Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) began circulating the letter, according to the Hill.

The letter calls upon the House and Senate to implement mandatory harassment training, require Congress to survey its staff to see how much sexual harassment occurs in congressional offices, and make it optional for staffers reporting harassment to the Office of Compliance (OOC) to undergo counseling and mediation.

Current rules state that staffers who experience harassment cannot file a complaint until 90 days after the event occurred and that those who do report harassment to OOC must undergo counseling and mediation for 30 days before filing a lawsuit.

Many Capitol Hill staffers are coming forward with their stories of sexual harassment as news reports of alleged harassment in politics surface.

Three staffers for Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) accused Lawrence’s chief of staff of harassment and accused Lawrence of ignoring their complaints.

Lawrence placed her chief of staff on leave Tuesday once the allegations were publicized in the media.


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