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You are here News Congress Capitol Hill’s sexual harassment policy ‘toothless,’ ‘a joke’

Capitol Hill’s sexual harassment policy ‘toothless,’ ‘a joke’

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Rep. Jackie Speier calls Capitol Hill protestion of women a joke

Two female lawmakers and several congressional staffers are calling for an overhaul of Capitol Hill’s policies on sexual harassment, citing a culture of tolerance in a workplace long known as a boys’ club.

The sexual harassment scandals involving major Hollywood and media figures are focusing new attention on Congress’ procedures, which critics say are woefully inadequate for deterring bad behavior in an institution filled with powerful men and young aides trying to advance their careers. Each congressional office operates as its own small, tightly controlled fiefdom with its own rules and procedures, which makes it that much harder to come forward.

Lawmakers and congressional aides are not required to undergo sexual harassment training — a shortcoming even the office that handles complaints says should be changed. And victims must submit to as long as three months of mandated “counseling" and “mediation,” as well as what one lawyer involved in such cases called a "cooling off period," before filing a complaint against an alleged perpetrator.

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