Sending Office: Honorable Jackie Speier
Over the past several weeks, I have been inspired by the courageous individuals coming forward with their stories of sexual harassment through the #MeToo campaign. It reminded me of my own experience with sexual harassment while serving as a young staffer
in Congress. (Follow me on Twitter at @RepSpeier to see the video in which I shared my story and launched #MeToo Congress this morning.) It is critical that we shine a light on sexual harassment everywhere it happens, including right here in our own offices.
I encourage all of you, as well as current and former staff who feel safe in doing so, to join me in speaking out and sharing our stories.
I am also introducing two legislative initiatives to combat the scourge of sexual harassment in Congress.
The first is the reintroduction of a resolution (H. Res. 548 in the 113th Congress) that will require
annual sexual harassment training for Members and employees of the House. Funding for this was passed by the House for the Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations bill, but was stripped out in conference.
The second will be new comprehensive legislation to more fully address sexual harassment in Congress.
This bill will:
- Require annual sexual harassment training for Members and employees of the House of Representatives;
- Require a climate survey to give a real analysis of the scope of the problem, which will be given each Congress to determine if prevention and reform efforts are truly working to curb the prevalence of sexual harassment in Congress; and
- Overhaul the completely inadequate Office of Compliance’s dispute resolution process. Best practices from Fortune 500 companies say that we should have a speedy complaint process that protects employees from any form of retaliation. My bill
will reform the OOC process by:
- Speeding it up – currently, anyone filing a complaint must go through an at least three month process of mediation and counseling before the complaint is made. Mediation and counseling should be voluntary, not mandatory.
- Giving it teeth – the OOC’s authority will be expanded from mediating and looking at voluntarily submitted evidence, to having the authority to actually conduct investigations.
- Holding leaders responsible – the roles of managers (Members and Chiefs of Staff) in preventing and reporting sexual harassment will be clearly outlined. The burden should not fall solely on the survivor.
- Including interns – currently, unpaid interns are not covered by OOC protections at all, since they are excluded from the CAA definition of “Employee of the House of Representatives.”
I hope you will join me both in speaking out and cosponsoring this critical legislation. For any questions, or to cosponsor, please contact Molly Fishman of my staff at
All the best,
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0