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Anti-Harassment Measures and Forced Arbitration Back in Spotlight on Capitol Hill

Jan. 18, 2018

Anti-Harassment Measures and Forced Arbitration Back in Spotlight on Capitol Hill

Statements of Public Citizen Experts

Note: Today, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration introduced a bipartisan bill to reform congressional procedures for reporting and responding to harassment and discrimination. This bill is one of several measures designed to address and improve outdated congressional procedures currently in place through the Congressional Accountability Act.

“There is no place in Congress for discrimination and harassment. This bipartisan bill is a step in the right direction to ensuring that Congress’ own house is in order.

Congress’s current policy forces victims of harassment to undergo so-called mediation with their harassers. It treats harassment as a social disagreement among peers rather than what it is: an unacceptable abuse of power with severe consequences for survivors. Ending this disgraceful system is absolutely necessary to fixing the culture in Congress and launching forward with reforms to address the problem nationwide.”

– Statement of Lisa Gilbert, vice president for legislative affairs, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division

“No workplace is immune from discrimination and harassment, but we have reached a moment of reckoning from Hollywood to the halls of Congress – a recognition that society will not tolerate discrimination and harassment in the workplace. This bipartisan bill is a start, but more must be done. All congressional committees addressing this issue must be committed to a comprehensive legislative fix, which means including in their proposals recommendations of more than 90 civil and human rights, equality, access to justice and transparency organizations.

In addition to getting its own house in order, Congress must pass legislation that removes forced arbitration clauses from private-sector employment contracts so that all workers are given the same access to justice as the legislative workforce.”

– Remington A. Gregg, counsel for civil justice and consumer rights, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division