WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as well as Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have today introduced a senate resolution that would mandate sexual harassment prevention training for all employees of the Senate.
“As a body of elected officials, we Senators have an obligation to set an example. Establishing a healthy and productive work environment should be no exception to that obligation. We should do everything possible to make sure our colleagues and staffs don’t have to endure harassment if we can prevent it,” Senator Grassley said. “Trainings like this are important for cultivating the right kind of working environment and setting the baseline standards that any place of work should have.”
“Women deserve to feel safe at work, and every employer and employee—including the U.S. Senate—must take sexual harassment seriously. Our resolution makes clear that all Senate employees should be trained in this area and that harassment will not be tolerated. We’re also working on legislation to reform the Senate’s process for handling complaints so that victims can come forward with confidence and violators face appropriate consequences,” Senator Feinstein said.
“Sexual harassment training should be mandatory in the United States Senate,” said Senator Klobuchar, Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee. “I look forward to working with Senator Grassley and my Rules Committee colleagues to pass and implement this important update to Senate policy.”
“There is no place for sexual harassment on our college campuses, in our workplace, our gyms, our military – or anywhere else,” said Senator Ernst. “It is critical that Congress has zero tolerance for such inappropriate behavior and action in our society. I am glad to join my colleagues in this measure to ensure that Members of the Senate and their staffs are provided with the necessary training on prevention and reporting procedures to combat sexual harassment.”
“I am proud to join a bipartisan group of my colleagues to introduce this resolution to help combat sexual harassment in Congress,” said Senator Gillibrand. “What we are seeing from the powerful #MeToo campaign is that sexual assault and sexual harassment are pervasive across our entire society. What you see time and again in institutions all around the country is a culture where power and fear keep sexual assault and sexual harassment in the shadows. Congress is no different. Congress should never be above the law or play by their own set of rules. This bipartisan resolution would help hold this institution accountable by mandating sexual harassment prevention training for Members, interns and their staffs.”
“Sexual harassment—under any circumstance and in any setting—is simply unacceptable. As members of Congress and staff serving the American people, we have a responsibly to set an example of what it means to foster an appropriate and respectful work environment,” Senator Capito said. “This resolution will help ensure our policies reflect these priorities and make it clear that sexual harassment will not be tolerated in the United States Senate.”
The bipartisan “Senate Training on Prevention of Sexual Harassment” or “STOP Sexual Harassment” resolution (S. Res. 323) requires all Senate members, staff, interns, fellows and detailees to complete the sexual harassment prevention training offered by the Office of Compliance (OOC) or the Office of the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment. The training must be completed no later than 60 days after starting work in the Senate. Further, the Committee on Rules and Administration is to issue rules about periodic completion of the training.
The resolution also calls for an anonymous survey to be administered by the Sergeant at Arms that will gather information about instances of sexual harassment or related behavior in the Senate.
The congressional Office of Compliance (OOC) was established under the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, a statute that Grassley sponsored to ensure that Congress follows the same civil rights, labor, workplace safety and health laws as other federal agencies and the private sector. OOC and the Office of the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment offer sexual harassment training to Senate offices, but this training is not mandatory. This resolution aims to change that.
Last week, Grassley wrote to the leaders of the Committee on Rules and Administration requesting that the committee unilaterally issue rules requiring these trainings, but was informed that a resolution would likely be necessary to implement such mandates.
A prepared statement for the Congressional Record by Chairman Grassley follows:
Prepared Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
On the Sexual Harassment Training for Senators and Staff
November 7, 2017
Mr. President, allegations of sexual harassment against a growing number of people have surfaced recently. Some facing the accusations have issued public apologies, while others have maintained their innocence. But the allegations continue to mount, and as each new one surfaces, so grows my concern about whether we’re doing enough to combat this problem.
There are many things on which members of this chamber don’t agree, but one thing on which we can and should agree is this: sexual harassment has no place in the workforce. And it certainly has no place in the halls of Congress.
To signal how seriously I take this issue, I last week called on the Senate Rules Committee to impose a requirement of sexual harassment training for every employee in this chamber. Today, I’m introducing a bipartisan resolution to ensure that the Rules Committee has the authority necessary to ensure that every member of this chamber, every employee on the Senate payroll, and every unpaid Senate intern receives anti-harassment training.
This is not an onerous requirement, and it’s one that’s long overdue. Training materials on harassment already exist, thanks to the Congressional Office of Compliance and our Office of the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment. It’s already mandatory for my Judiciary Committee staff and personal office staff to take anti-harassment training. The executive branch and some private employers already have instituted similar training requirements for their employees.
More than two decades ago, I sponsored the Congressional Accountability Act as a sign of our commitment to promoting fairness in the workplace. This 1995 statute requires Congress to follow the same civil rights, labor, workplace safety, and health laws to which other employers are subject. The law also established our Office of Compliance to implement the law’s dispute resolution, education, and enforcement provisions for Congress. That office not only mediates sexual harassment complaints but also has developed sexual harassment training for congressional offices. The Office of the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment also makes anti-harassment training available to Senators and staff.
The resolution I’m introducing today also calls for the Sergeant at Arms to develop an anonymous survey on the prevalence of sexual harassment in the Senate. This survey, which will be conducted every two years, is to be developed in consultation with the Office of Compliance and Office of the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment.
I have tremendous respect for my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I believe each of you works hard to ensure that your offices are professional, free of harassment, and places where merit’s rewarded. But I think we have to acknowledge that in our society, despite our best efforts and intentions, sexual harassment remains a serious problem. And we must work together to make sure that the Senate remains free from harassment.
Some may say that policies regarding sexual harassment should be left to the discretion of each office. But I believe it’s important for every Senate office to have a consistent stance on this particular issue. Every office should receive the same training so the Senate maintains a culture in which harassment is not tolerated. This is a common interest we all share. The voters who sent us here expect the best. We owe it to the American people to hold ourselves and our employees to the highest standards of conduct and professionalism.
Mr. President, I want to close by thanking Senators Feinstein, Klobuchar, Ernst, and Gillibrand for working so closely with me on the development of this resolution. I urge my colleagues to embrace a common sense approach to preventing sexual harassment by supporting its passage.