House Passes Sexual Misconduct Bill Protecting Congressional Staff

February 09, 2018

The House passed legislation that substantially changes how the chamber handles sexual harassment claims, possibly setting the stage for a private sector measure.  One of the two harassment bills that were passed by voice vote (H.Res. 724) would immediately change House rules without need for Senate action and establish an Office of Employee Advocacy to represent victims of alleged workplace misconduct. The second bill (H.R. 4924), which now goes to the Senate for debate, would:

  • Eliminate mandatory counseling and mediation provisions, thus allowing an employee to proceed to an investigation or to file in federal court;
  • Provide a dedicated advocate to provide legal consultation, representation, and assistance;
  • Provide opportunities for impacted employees to work remotely or request paid leave;
  • Require Congress to conduct a workplace “climate survey” of employees every two years;
  • Hold Members of Congress personally financially responsible for any sexual harassment award or settlement; and 
  • Require Congress to report online every six months information on awards and settlements.
The House measure could set the stage for similar private sector legislation.