Speier: Congressional reporting system for sexual harassment 'set up to protect the harasser'

Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierThis week: Time running out for Congress to avoid shutdown Maxine Waters to skip Trump's State of the Union Dem Rep invited #MeToo founder to State of the Union MORE (D-Calif.) said Sunday that the existing reporting system for sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill is set up “to protect the harasser.” 

“I think it was a system set up in 1995 to protect the harasser. This is not a victim-friendly process,” Speier said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“One victim who I spoke with said, ‘you know, the process was almost worse than the harassment,’ ” Speier added.

Speier and Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandTrump thinks he could easily beat Sanders in 2020 match-up: report Listen: EMILY’s List upbeat about Dem House in '19 Desperate Democrats shouldn't settle for Oprah MORE (D-N.Y.) earlier this month introduced legislation that would overhaul policies to report sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.

Under the current system through the Office of Compliance, staffers must go through months of mediation and counseling with the employing office before they can file a harassment complaint. During the mediation process, the parties involved sign an agreement to keep all documents and communications confidential.

ADVERTISEMENT
Speier and Gillibrand are proposing to make the counseling and mediation optional and set a deadline for filing a complaint to 180 days after the alleged violation. 

Sexual harassment has been at the forefront of discussion on Capitol Hill in recent weeks. Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R), Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenPawlenty opts out of Senate run in Minnesota EMILY’s List president: Franken did 'right thing for Minnesota' Dem pledges to ask all court nominees about sexual harassment history under oath MORE (D-Minn.) and Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersWoman accuses New York state senator of sexual misconduct Dissatisfaction with position of women in US hits new high Republicans on the run: Retirements could be trouble for Trump and party MORE Jr. (D-Mich.) have all faced allegations of sexual misconduct.

Speier helped bring issues of sexual harassment to light earlier this month when she shared a story of a chief of staff forcibly kissing her when she was a Congressional staffer.

She later told a panel that she knows of at least two current members of Congress who "have engaged in sexual harassment."