Congressional MeToo Act Prompted by #MeToo Social Media Campaign

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A Congressional bill seeks to create one sexual harassment policy for all of Congress. 

Spurred on by the viral #MeToo campaign, where people throughout the world volunteered information about their own experiences as victims of sexual abuse and harassment, the Member and Employee Training and Oversight On Congress Act (“MeToo Congress Act”) would be a major overhaul of 1995 sexual harassment laws. The bill, approved by the U.S. House and passed on to the Senate, contains provisions that:

  • Require lawmakers to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for settlements they reach with former staffers.
  • Mandate annual anti-sexual harassment training for all House and Senate members.
  • Improve the dispute settlement process for sexual harassment claims amidst claims that the process currently protects those who perpetrate harassment instead of the victims.

In the current absence of Congress-wide regulations, the office of each Representative and Senator has its own individual harassment rules that apply only to those in the member’s office. 

Connecticut’s Example – U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty

U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty recently announced that she would not be seeking re-election for her third term due to her handling of a 2016 harassment complaint in her office.

It took Esty’s office 3 months to complete an investigation into the allegation that her former chief of staff had intimidated an aide, including a profane voicemail that prompted the aide to obtain a protective order against the chief of staff. Even after the investigation, the chief of staff remained on Esty’s staff and, when finally terminated, he received not only a $5,000 severance package but also a positive reference that helped him gain a job with the Sandy Hook Promise organization in Ohio.

The delay caused disturbance among the staff as they continued to witness inappropriate behavior until the chief of staff left the office. Esty herself conceded that other female staffers were “victimized” by what they heard and saw.

After the chief of staff was terminated, Esty did take action to update sexual harassment rules and to ban relationships between employees. But her actions were too late to save her political reputation, as calls for her resignation quickly followed the revelation of the botched investigation.

Let Us Know If You Have Been a Victim of Sexual Harassment

If you or a family member has experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment of any kind or has been injured in an accident or by any other type of personal injury, or needs help with any employment discrimination or family law issue, please contact the Law Offices of Paul S. Foreman, P.C. immediately. We have the right experience to get the optimal results for your case. Please call us for a free consultationAttorney Paul S. Foreman, personal injury attorney in Essex, will fight to secure justice for you and your family. You can reach us at 973-315-3232 or contact us via the website.