House Passes Shea-Porter Cosponsored Legislation to Address Sexual Harassment in Congress
WASHINGTON, DC— Today, the House of Representatives passed two bipartisan pieces of legislation cosponsored by Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) to address sexual harassment and workplace discrimination in Congress.
“Today, the House took an important step forward in creating a safer Congressional workplace by addressing the institutional failures that fostered an unacceptable culture of sexual harassment in Congress,” said Shea-Porter. “This legislation will eliminate the practice of issuing taxpayer-funded settlements and concealing them from the public, practices which perpetuate harassment and abuse. Across the country, we are engaging in a long-overdue conversation about sexual harassment and assault, and I am pleased that the House has acted in a bipartisan fashion to improve how Congress handles sexual harassment claims.”
H.R. 4924, if passed by the Senate, will end the practice of taxpayer-funded settlements for victims of sexual harassment or assault in Congress. It will eliminate mandatory mediation, thus allowing an employee to proceed directly to an investigation or to file a complaint in federal court. The bill holds Members personally responsible for their conduct, requiring them to repay settlements to the Treasury within 90 days, and automatically referring such claims to the Committee on Ethics for investigation. The bill strengthens transparency by requiring the Office of Compliance to report and publish settlement information, including the employing office, the award, and the violation.
The House also passed H.Res. 724, which changes the Rules of the House to require each Member office to have anti-discrimination and sexual harassment policies and establishes the Office of Employee Advocacy to provide legal and other services for House employees regarding harassment procedures.