Lawmakers say sexual harassers serving in Congress

Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Sexual Harassment in Congress

Brendan Hoffman Getty Images The Speaker's rostrum in the U.S. House of Representatives

"And then they have to go through a one-month "cooling off" period, all the while they are still required to work in that office that was a hostile work environment", she said.

It was also detailed that even if a Congressional accuser goes through the process and reaches a settlement, it's not the accused member of Congress or staffer who has to pay up.

House lawmakers on Tuesday will review the chamber's sexual harassment policies in the wake of sweeping allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment that have rocked powerful institutions and industries across the country.

Comstock told the story involving the unidentified congressman at a hearing on preventing sexual harassment in Congress, saying she doesn't know who the member is but heard the story from a trustworthy source.

Years before she was elected to Congress, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) was a U.S. House of Representatives staffer and said she was sexually harassed on the job. "But that kind of situation - what are we doing here for women right now who are dealing with somebody like that?" However, Gloria Lett, counsel at the Office of House Employment, who testified at Tuesday's hearing, said that she believed in the process and thought it worked "very effectively".

The Senate last week approved a resolution instituting mandatory harassment training for members and aides, a shift from the current voluntary standard.

The House Administration Committee held a hearing today on sexual harassment in Congress, calling on House members to testify of their experiences.

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Later this week, Speier will also introduce legislation to overhaul the process that victims of harassment undergo when they file complaints to the Office of Compliance, which she has called "toothless" and says is created to protect harassers and not the harassed.

Comstock said the name of the lawmaker she mentioned wasn't disclosed to her, but emphasized that naming names is an important step in promoting accountability and encouraging victims to come forward.

Both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell support ramping up sexual harassment training, as does House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

"I strongly encourage you to complete sexual harassment training and to mandate the training for your staff".

One possible solution to the issue has already been suggested - mandatory sexual harassment training for all lawmakers and their staff. But he expressed concern that the increasing focus on gender hostility in the workplace could create unintended consequences, including "that some offices may just take a short cut and not hire women as a way to avoid these issues".

She also noted that cases between staff members and lawmakers are "very rare" and that mediation cases are overwhelmingly between two staff members. He said that would be more effective than the "current patchwork" of policies.

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