No one should be sexually harassed, assaulted, or discriminated against in their workplace. Should such behavior occur, there must be a way to stop it and for the victim to find justice. For most American workers, this is indeed the case. Yet for Congressional staff, who are crucial the functioning of the legislative branch and who in fact help write many of our laws, that is not so. Today, no law effectively protects Congressional staff who endure this type of harassment.
The National Whistleblower Center (NWC), as a member organization of the Workplace Sexual Harassment Coalition, signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer to support a mirror bill to the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act (H.R. 4924) in the House. The Act, which seeks to improve workplace protections for Congressional staff, gained broad public support in light of the #MeToo movement.
In the letter, the Coalition makes recommendations as to the improvement of H.R. 4924. It also urges the Senate to include reforms passed in H. Res. 724. The Resolution requires that each “employing office” in the House establish an anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy. It also calls for the creation of an Office of Employee Advocacy. The Office would assist employees with counsel and representation as they navigate Congressional Accountability Act processes. This legislation would have provided key protections for federal employee whistleblowers. It would have also ameliorated the convoluted process currently in place for Congressional employees to report instances of sexual harassment, assault, or discrimination.
While the bill as a whole was passed along with the $1.3 trillion spending bill, the provisions which could have best protected Congressional staff from sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination did not. The National Whistleblower Center, along with many allies, continues to advocate for this language through other legislative options.