Senate has spent more than $1.45M settling harassment, discrimination cases in last 20 years

Senate has spent more than $1.45M settling harassment, discrimination cases in last 20 years
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The Senate spent more than $1.45 million settling workplace harassment and discrimination cases over the past 20 years, according to data released by the Senate Rules Committee on Thursday.

The Office of Compliance (OOC) paid nearly $600,000 in claims stemming from senators' offices across a total of 13 settlements, according to the data.

They also paid more than an additional $853,000 as part of 10 settlements in response to claims from other Senate-employing offices, according to the data.

Senators have been under pressure to release the information on sexual and workplace harassment claims after the House Office of Compliance began disclosing information on settlements.

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Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig Shelby20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall Conservatives urge Trump to stick with Moore for Fed Poll: Roy Moore leading Alabama GOP field MORE (R-Ala.) said they had received assurances from the Office of Senate Legal Counsel that the release of the data didn't violate the confidentiality of those involved in the settlements. 

"While the Rules Committee has been eager to provide this information in a transparent manner, it has been our priority to protect the victims involved in these settlements from further harm," he said. 

Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTop 5 races to watch in 2019 Bottom Line Races Dems narrowly lost show party needs to return to Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy MORE (R-Miss.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, added that "harassment of any kind is unacceptable. The Senate should hold itself to the highest standards of professionalism and respect."
 
The data released by the Rules Committee on Thursday night did not list any settlements stemming from sexual harassment cases. 
 
But the OOC paid $14,260.25 to settle sexual discrimination and reprisal cases from a member-led office, according to the data. 
 
Capitol Hill has been rocked by a recent string of sexual harassment and misconduct claims leading to several members, including Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenWinners and losers from first fundraising quarter Election analyst says Gillibrand doesn't have 'horsepower to go the full distance' Gillibrand campaign links low fundraising to Al Franken backlash: memo MORE (D-Minn.) and Reps. John ConyersJohn James ConyersMembers spar over sexual harassment training deadline Reparations bill wins new momentum in Congress Overnight Health Care: Pelosi asks how to pay for single-payer | Liberal groups want Dems to go bigger on drug prices | Surprise medical bill legislation could come soon MORE Jr. (D-Mich.) and Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership MORE (R-Ariz.), resigning or announcing they would step down.
 
The Senate’s Office of Compliance previously rejected Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Democratic proposals to overhaul health care: A 2020 primer Dems ask Justice Dept to release findings of Acosta-Epstein investigation MORE’s (D-Va.) request for information about sexual harassment settlements in Congress, citing the Congressional Accountability Act’s confidentiality rules.

Kaine submitted his request on the day that Franken announced his resignation from the Senate after multiple women alleged that Franken had groped or forcibly kissed them in the past.

In a letter to Kaine earlier this week, the OOC noted that it traditionally hasn't "separated allegations of sexual harassment from those involving sex­-based disparate treatment or pregnancy discrimination."

"In fact, for many years, the office simply classified all claims alleging discrimination of any kind as civil rights cases without any further differentiation," wrote Susan Tsui Grundmann, the executive director of the OOC. 

Kaine commended the move to release the data on Thursday night, calling it a "first step."

“I appreciate that the Senate Rules Committee did the right thing today by heeding calls to release this data. This is the first step toward a more transparent reporting system for harassment in Congress to hold people accountable for their actions," he said.

Updated at 8:34 p.m.