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

Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierLawmakers offer bipartisan resolution highlighting sexual assault prevention Democrats put harassment allegations against Trump on back burner Speaker in waiting? Rapid rise of Hakeem Jeffries fuels talk 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 GillibrandGillibrand 'not worried' about being 'discounted' in 2020 race Cory Booker releases 10 years of tax returns Buttigieg gets first congressional endorsement 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 FrankenBehar laments Franken resignation to Gillibrand: 'I really miss him now' Winners and losers from first fundraising quarter Election analyst says Gillibrand doesn't have 'horsepower to go the full distance' MORE (D-Minn.) and Rep. 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.) 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."