Lawmakers introduce ‘Me Too’ bill
- By FederalSoup Staff
- Nov 15, 2017
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has unveiled legislation that will address sexual harassment in Congress, which will in effect overhaul the system for filing and settling harassment claims from congressional employees.
The “Member and Employee Training and Oversight On (ME TOO) Congress Act,” will require more transparency, overhaul complaint process and improve support for victims and whistleblowers.
It is coined after a trending social media hashtag that went viral after women began using it to indicate that they had been a victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault.
Both the House and Senate versions of the bill will require mandatory annual training for members and staff, implement climate surveys to show the true scope of this problem, give interns and fellows the same protections as full-time staff, and end forced mediation.
According to Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), a sponsor of the bill, since 1995 when Congress created the Office of Congressional Compliance to protect itself from being exposed from sexual assault and discrimination cases,260 settlements and more than $15 million have permanently silenced victims of all types of workplace discrimination.
“Congress should never be above the law, Congress should not play by their own set of rules, and as elected officials, we should be held to the highest standards – not the lowest,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said, adding, “This needs to change. We need accountability and we need transparency. We need reform, and we need it now. Congress needs to set a better example, and I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting this fight.”
In recent months, many women have come forward to share their stories of being victimized by top Hollywood executives but eventually the accusations found their way to those of members of Congress.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced that the House will adopt a policy to mandate sexual harassment awareness training for members and staff, and the Senate already moved last week to pass a measure requiring the training for its members and employees.
A copy of Speier’s bill text can be found here.