Taxpayer-funded sexual harassment


Can’t keep track of these all.

Last week Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas resigned from Congress amidst yet another sex scandal. As a result the House Ethics Committee dropped their sexual harassment investigation of him, and he had pledged to pay back the $84,000 of taxpayer money he used to settle the claim. [source]

Since 1997, the taxpayers have shelled out more than $17 million to pay for these claims.

All 22 female senators have asked for reform in how this process is handled. It goes something like this:

The “burdensome and confusing” process for addressing sexual harassment in Congress that the letter describes goes something like this. Staff who have been harassed have 180 days to file a complaint with the little-known Office of Compliance. They must then undergo up to a month of legal counseling and then a mandatory “mediation” involving a taxpayer-funded lawyer representing the congressional office’s interest. If no settlement is reached, the victim must wait through a month-long “cooling-off” period before filing a lawsuit or requesting a hearing. Should a settlement be reached, it usually includes a nondisclosure agreement—and the member of Congress uses taxpayer dollars to pay the victim. Since 1997, the US Treasury has shelled out more than $17 million for Capitol Hill workplace violations in the form of awards and settlements.

And this Farenthold dude?

Lauren Greene, Farenthold’s former communications director, had sued him in December 2014 for gender discrimination, sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment and wrongful termination. According to Greene, another co-worker had said Farenthold said he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her and had told Greene that he was “estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years.” When she complained about the comments, she was fired. Greene filed a lawsuit, but that was dropped after a private settlement was reached through the Congress’ Office of Compliance.



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