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 ShelbyIs this any way for NASA to build a lunar lander? In-space refueling vs heavy lift? NASA and SpaceX choose both Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown 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 CochranBiden has a lot at stake in first debate The Hill's Morning Report — Trump turns the page back to Mueller probe Trump praises Thad Cochran: 'A real senator with incredible values' 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 FrankenFormer GOP Rep. Jason Lewis says he'll challenge Tina Smith in Minnesota Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again MORE (D-Minn.) and Reps. John ConyersJohn James ConyersEXCLUSIVE: Trump on reparations: 'I don't see it happening' McConnell: Reparations aren't 'a good idea' This week: Democrats move funding bills as caps deal remains elusive 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 KaineA lesson of the Trump, Tlaib, Omar, Netanyahu affair Warren's pledge to avoid first nuclear strike sparks intense pushback Almost three-quarters say minimum age to buy tobacco should be 21: Gallup 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.