A U.S. congresswoman has jointed the ‘#MeToo’ campaign and announced her own story of sexual harassment in the 1970s, putting the focus on lacking personnel policies in Congress.
Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, shared her story with a video clip, telling of the time she was groped in a congressional office as a young staffer in the 1970s.
‘I was working as a congressional staffer. The chief of staff held my face, kissed me, and stuck his tongue in my mouth,’ Speier says in the video, looking straight at the camera.
‘So I know what it’s like to keep these things hidden deep down inside,’ she continues. ‘I know what it’s like years later to remember that rush of humiliation and anger.’
Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, shared her story of being groped by a top aide int he 1970s while working for a member of Congress
Then she turned to Congress generally.
‘Congress has been a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long,’ she said. She plans to introduce legislation next week to tighten reporting procedures and policies.
Harvey Weinstein’s downfall has brought down other industry leaders who admitted inappropriate or illegal behavior, but until now has not brought new claims from Congress.
But a renewed focus on the rules in the Captiol reveal that procedures trail many in private industry, and disadvantage people who claim to experience harassment, in a building long known for its antiquated ways.
Staff members are required to go through months of counseling and mediation when they bring complaints.
When settlements get paid, the U.S. Treasury pays the bill – holding harmless individual office budgets.
According to the Washington Post, the Treasury has paid out $15.2 million for 235 awards and settlements in Capitol workplaces, based on information from the congressional Office of Compliance.
Some aides are not even aware of the procedures to file complaints, and lawmakers and aides are not required to take sexual harassment training, Politico reported. Congress sets its own rules for harassment procedures.