House Passes Sports Sexual Abuse Reporting Bill

February 02, 2018

As Congress prepares to consider measures addressing its own sexual harassment procedures, the House passed legislation this week that will require athletic organizations to swiftly report sexual abuse and establish preventative policies.  Both parties overwhelmingly supported the bill in the 406-3 vote in response to the recent conviction of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar for sexually abusing more than 150 young female athletes.  The significant interest in transparency and disclosure for sexual abuse and harassment could potentially be part of a broader private sector measure.  Separately, next week the House Administration Committee is scheduled to markup the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, which 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 measure, which is expected to pass the House, could set the stage for similar private-sector legislation.  However, as Congress presses forward, some concerns are being raised within Congress about the measure going too far, focusing in particular on the creation of a new bureaucracy that does not have any discretion over which cases have merit and does not have a defined role in any resulting hearings.