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

Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierDemocrats demand Esper explicitly ban Confederate flag and allow Pride, Native Nations flags Overnight Defense: Pompeo pressed on move to pull troops from Germany | Panel abruptly scraps confirmation hearing | Trump meets family of slain soldier House passes amendment barring funding for transgender troops ban 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 GillibrandBiden should pick the best person for the job — not the best woman Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw 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 FrankenCNN publishes first Al Franken op-ed since resignation Political world mourns loss of comedian Jerry Stiller Maher to Tara Reade on timing of sexual assault allegation: 'Why wait until Biden is our only hope?' MORE (D-Minn.) and Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersThe Hill's Campaign Report: What to watch for in Tuesday's primaries 'Squad' member Rashida Tlaib faces strong primary challenger Local reparations initiatives can lead to national policy remedying racial injustice 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."