Bipartisan Support for Legislation to Reform Process for Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Claims in Congress
‘Workplace harassment is unacceptable anywhere -- end of story. The United States Congress is no exception. Here, as everywhere, employees must be free to work without fearing they’ll be the victim of harassment. So a consensus emerged -- among members in both the House and the Senate -- that we should do more to hold people accountable, protect staff, and help prevent harassment in the first place.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the bipartisan bill proposed by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) that would reform the process for workplace harassment and discrimination claims in Congress:
“First, on an important piece of internal business. Workplace harassment is unacceptable anywhere -- end of story. The United States Congress is no exception. Here, as everywhere, employees must be free to work without fearing they’ll be the victim of harassment. So a consensus emerged -- among members in both the House and the Senate -- that we should do more to hold people accountable, protect staff, and help prevent harassment in the first place.
“That’s exactly what will happen under the proposal that our colleagues Senator Blunt and Senator Klobuchar have developed. These colleagues of ours deserve big thanks. Their thorough, bipartisan collaboration has produced an impressive and comprehensive proposal to reform how Congress handles claims of violations of federal workplace laws, particularly instances of harassment. It will help this institution take an important step forward.
“Their proposed reform achieves many of the important goals that members of both parties have put forward in recent months. There was widespread consensus that members of Congress who commit sexual harassment should reimburse taxpayers for the cost of claims or settlements. This reform achieves that and more. It requires members to pay for any harassment claims, for any protected class, where the member has personally engaged in misconduct. We sought to eliminate obstacles that made it more difficult for employees to file claims.
“This reform achieves that. It eliminates the mandatory counseling, the mandatory mediation, and the mandatory ‘cooling-off’ period that current law required employees to go through before filing a claim of a workplace violation. We wanted to ensure disclosure when there are settlements or awards for instances of sexual harassment. This reform achieves that and more. It mandates that every instance where a member is found to have personally committed any type of harassment be publicly reported.
“This is an entirely appropriate package of reforms that every member of this body should be able to support. It builds on the foundation laid by Senator Grassley’s landmark Congressional Accountability Act back in 1995. Our friend from Iowa led the way in making sure that Congress had to live by the workplace laws that it required of others. And it builds on other important steps this institution has recently taken, such as updating and strengthening the anti-harassment training that all Senate employees must complete.
“Here’s what all this adds up to: A clearer, easier, and more timely process for those who seek to file harassment claims, and greater personal accountability and transparency in the event that misconduct occurs. The Democratic leader and I are grateful to Senator Blunt and Senator Klobuchar for their hard work in assembling this proposal. It has our enthusiastic support.”