tv Sexual Harassment Congressional Workplace CSPAN December 26, 2017 11:23am-1:28pm EST
>> is the sandblaster continues in january with stops in bali, columbia, atlanta and my family. each visited state officials that their ally of "washington journal" program. follow the tour internist in june or 16th at 9:30 a.m. eastern for raleigh, north carolina winner "washington journal" gaston north carolina attorney general josh stein. >> house committee held a hearing on sexual harassment in congress and the process for staff to report harassment. witnesses testified from the office of compliance of house employment council and the employment opportunity commission.
>> i now call to order the committee on house administration or purposes of today's hearing titled preventing sexual harassment in the congressional work place on examining the funds to the congressional accountability act. figuring record will remain open for five legislative days until members submit any they wish to be included. a quorum is present or we may proceed. i ask for unanimous consent that the committee on ethics chairwoman susan brooks, represented jackie speier and bradley byrne said on the dais and question our witnesses today. without objection so ordered. at the outset with an call of
our witnesses for taking time out of what i know are very busy schedules to be here. we are much appreciative of that. first and foremost, let me reiterate there is no place for sexual harassment in our society. especially in congress. one case of sexual harassment is one case to many. the speaker of the house, paul ryan, tasks the committee with heading up an extensive review on this issue and we take that responsibility very seriously. as members of congress, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. a standard that demonstrates we are worthy of the trust placed in us by the public by our constituents and by everyone in this country. since our last hearing on november for income additional accounts of harassment have questions about the related settlement. both those authorized under the congressional accountability act
and outside the act has been raised. these issues suggests not only at this time, but appropriate for the committee to review the policy goals of the congressional accountability act, review what this sat out in the act did what we need to do to accomplish those policy goals and evaluate the reforms needed to accomplish our collective goal, bipartisan goal of zero tolerance. the congressional accountability act has not been comprehensively reviewed since its enactment in it to 95. the house took an important step forward last week in updating the policies and procedures by passing h.r. at 630. this resolution requires all house members, officers, employees including paid or unpaid interns, fellas and detail used to complete anti-iraq cement and discrimination trading every year as well as require all
house office is to post employee rights and protections under the congressional accountability act. the logical next step is to conduct a closer review of the accountability act to identify and evaluate what reforms are needed to ensure that we are protecting congressional employees in the work place is. this hearing plays an important role in our company's extensive review and the insight of witnesses today will help inform us and make those policy choices. i want to take this opportunity again to thank our speaker paul ryan for attacking our committee with this important issue. i would also like to think ranking member for his commitment to this issue and how they do housework and bipartisan manner. not only is that essential, it is with people expect. i look forward to hearing from each of our witnesses today and without a yield to the ranking
member, mr. brady. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for calling the hearing today and for the bipartisan manner for which you are approaching this issue. i want to thank our witnesses, especially the house employment council office of compliance. i appreciate the professional and nonpartisan way you approach the jobs in thank you for being here for a second time. congressional accountability act needs to be reformed. since our last hearing i remembered my colleagues on how we could approve this legislation. most importantly i met with survivors of the sexual harassment. we need to improve this process, but most importantly we need to change the culture of displays in the change must start with us. i hope to hear it helps us find some agreement on what we must do and help us better understand how we can reform the accountability act and give us more confidence in the process and justice for the terrible experience they've endured.
we are to employees and the american people to get this right. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses and i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you, mr. brady. does any other member wish to be recognized for an opening statement? the chair will recognize the gentlelady from virginia, mr. comstock. thank you, mr. chairman. again, i appreciate your leadership and ranking member brady and the bipartisan bicameral nature with which we are approaching menace and they do really believe this is a watershed moment and we need to take this opportunity to fundamentally change how we address this in congress but also beyond. i think my colleagues, jackie speier for joining us today and i believe chairman of the ethics committee will be joining us, too. 30 years ago a young one man to remember to see was the first
that gem of sexual harassment who brought this forward, highlighted this issue against a member of congress and prevailed in her case. she is here today and i want to welcome her and once again thinker for her courage and perseverance and how gracefully she handled a terribly difficult situation than and i think it is important that now even though it is far too long and it should not read that we do right by debris now but i'll be other people who are the people behind the headlines we see right now about sexual predators because the child predators cross all party lines and transcend any party labels. we want to make sure that it doesn't start for first that we provide an advocate for them or
some type of level playing field so that it didn't feel that we are protecting them, but more importantly that we actually are and make this a much more fair system and also in that arena how we address the nondisclosure agreement. we know the nondisclosure agreement prevents us from really know it going on there whether it's allowing people in the past in congress to come forward without any fear of violating a nondisclosure agreement or how we address in the public or in general. there's legislation on not read so that's an important issue we will need to address going forward. thank you for the opportunity here. it was helpful in terms of talking about changing the culture and how we do that by permeating from the top-down and
bottom-up needing to be something we are all engaged in. thank you for the opportunity. >> the gentlelady yelled at. now the gentleman from maryland for purposes of an open statement. >> mr. chairman, thank you very much for convening this import hearing and i want to thank our colleagues, representative speier who has been in the forefront of any changes we have been making and also representative brooks is coming or on the way. we are in the middle, mr. chairman, and a dramatic culture shift that is also the strong political democracy that is part of here in our country. the public uproar over sexual harassment and sexual assault again in other places.
it has rocketed across america. akin to the halls of congress and has shaken this institution to the core. but i am pleased this is a moment when we are restating our common bipartisan commitment to zero tolerance for sexual harassment into a state dignified an equal work place for everyone who comes to serve congress. we are doing this on a bipartisan basis. we are doing this on a comp occasional basis. i think that is the value being vindicated or this is a culture shift like when congress has gone through before. the obvious could give gifts and take them out for dinner and fancy ships and there is a public uproar coming scandal and now it's unthinkable in this culture. it used to be members of congress could pocket money from campaign funds than they were
tired and there is a scandal, public uproar it's unthinkable anyone would do that today. we simply need to make sexual harassment something unthinkable. it just wouldn't be done in these halls. that is the value. we need a process that implements the value and of course the devil is in the details. we need rules double strongly deter sexual harassment and a process in place that will swiftly and fairly address the situation of the fence and get to the facts of cases that are controverted until we can move to a time when sexual harassment is simply no more in this body. i'm glad we are part of this going through the process, which is obviously painful for some members of the institution. we have to leave sexual harassment behind the way we put
other part says behind and i am proud the administration is playing a leadership role there and we have so many colleagues who come to join us in the product. i go back to you. >> the gentleman yield back. anyone else have an opening statement? the chair will recognize an opening statement. >> thank you. i have to applaud your effort in the bipartisan manner in which we've undertaken this issue to ranking member brady, to my colleague, ms. comstock. i think we are at a watershed moment, mr. chairman. i've been working on this issue for a very long time. one is working to congress in the mid-1990s we had a hearing on this issue. we brought into or francis connolly who was the first tenured neurosurgeon in the
united states and she was a professor at stanford university and she wrote a book called walking out on the boys and talked about the horrific environment in which she had a word as a professional in academia and as a medical professional. of course, the anita hill hearings that make a 92 is also a watershed issue in time in which it was called the year of the women. well, it was one year and i frankly was not enough. so what we have experienced over the last many decades is that there has been a return to the status quo, which is woefully an except the bull. we all recognize the office of compliance is mandated to do things to hurt the victim. it's not that they do it by choice because that is how it is
mandated in the congressional accountability act. h.r. 4396, which some of you have cosponsored that has over 100 cosponsors for republicans and democrats alike, the need to act which does the job of reforming the office of compliance. i don't think it goes far enough and as we continue to talk about the issue, i think we need to recognize that probably the house ethics committee for the house administration committee is not the venue to which investigations should be sent when a complaint is filed about sexual harassment. there needs to be an independent investigation. some have said how about the due process. i would say there is due process hearing if we allow the independent agency or entity to do the review and make a recommendation to the house, that would provide it. i do think that we have to
recognize behavior like this is normally not one and 10. normally it is a pattern of behavior and i think we've got to make sure however we move forward that we are but concentric. we have to make sure that one who suddenly office crying that going through this process was worse then the sexual harassment. shame on us for not having addressed the sooner. i want to remember a young woman who came to this building, who worked in a number of offices where she became or where she a complaint for sexual harassment. she is no longer here. her career was over.
she was told her career would be over if she filed a complaint and she hasn't worked since. we've got to make sure that the victims have the opportunity to stay here. they have the right to work in these hallowed halls. just because they were tied by a colleague of ours or a staff member is not a reason if they file a complaint to ostracize them. as they talk about this, i hope that we will redouble our efforts to make sure we are protect the victims and that we are making sure there is a soft landing for them so they can continue to curse due to career in public service. >> agility gilds back. the gentleman from north carolina mr. walker for an opening statement. thank you, mr. chairman. appreciate the opportunity to be part of this committee and i think it is much of your committee to handle a sense it
is a very important matter i think about the bravery of all the dems that have stepped forward. congresswoman speier is right. there is a pattern to this behavior match of the time that it usually takes a champion or someone to step forward to begin to break through some of that is going to come out and we have one of those leaders in the smooth and so i just want to acknowledge her bravery over the last couple years. i yield back. >> the gentleman yield back. any other person wish to be recognized for the purpose of an opening statement? i would now like to introduce our witnesses. first, victoria lipnic of the equal employment opportunity commission may president trump on january 25th, 2017 before becoming the act the chair, lipnic served as commissioner, act being chair lipnic has
experience with federal employment laws holding positions such as u.s. assistant attorney of labor for employment standards and workforce councils to the committee on education and the work force of the u.s. house of representatives. acting chair lipnic has also worked in the private sector as counsel to the firm llp and washington d.c. office. we welcome you, ms. lipnic. i also like to introduce susan grundmann, executive director, office of compliance. ms. grundmann sirs at the office of compliance, which was established to ensure the integrity of the congressional accountability act of 1995 through programs of dispute resolution education and enforcement. ms. grundmann works at the board of directors to advise congress
i needed changes and amendments to the congressional accountability act. previously, ms. grundmann at the mayor protection board enforcing federal merit systems in the executive branch. she was confirmed to that position by the u.s. senate in 2009. ms. grundmann has more than 20 years of experience in litigation and advising and educating clients in labor and employment matters. she began her legal career as a law clerk at the 19th circuit of virginia. welcome, ms. grundmann. ms. gloria lett is a corporate attorney handling employment law issues and litigation for a large telecommunications company. she also served as an assistant corporation counsel representing the district of columbia and civil litigation as a special
assistant united states attorney for the district of columbia handling criminal prosecutions and i've been attorney for the equal employment opportunity commission. we welcome you, ms. lett. dan crowley has served in the washington d.c. office since 2008 year prior to joining for five years, chief government affairs chief officer at the institute, the national association industry. previously mr. crawley was vice president of the office of government relations at nasdaq stock market inc. mr. crowley's earlier employment include the committee on house admin is ration, also the committee on house oversight and the officers weicker newt gingrich. we welcome you, mr. crowley. the kuwaitis received each each of your written testimony is in you will each now have five minutes to present a summary of
that submission. most of you have testified before the >> , so you have the clock in front of you that will help you keep up your time. when you have gone it will be queen for format that will turn yellow for the last-minute and red means you're time is expired. the chair now recognize their witnesses for purposes of the opening statement beginning with eeoc. thank you all for being here today. >> thank you summit chairman harper, ranking member brady, good morning and thank you for the opportunity to testify today about a subject for weeks now has consumed headlines, sexual harassment, but certainly something we have seen to be far too common in this only now been fully brought into light. since early october when news of what was then simply known as the weinstein scandal broke, the issue has dominated the nation's collective conversation.
and please do add my voice. as the chairman said i'm the acting chair of the equal employment opportunity commission. i served for the last seven points five years and president trump designated the acting chair in january of this year. i was struck by the cases we would litigate and the egregious behaviors we were addressing on behalf of the terms of harassment. i had a conversation with her then chair who asked me to dig deeper into this issue. each of our regional attorneys. i was astonished but also deeply concerned that to a person and i was the same thing. the eeoc could if you want to have a docket consisting of nothing but harassment cases
generally and sexual harassment cases specifically. this fact and concern on a leadership level with the process and send pervasiveness of the harassment claims we continue to see went to the establishment of the select task force in the workplace announced that group of experts that convened following the public commission meeting in january 2015. i was honored to chair this alongside my democratic colleagues who joins me in the hearing room today. this year i'm tranquil was to see new innovative ways of workplace harassment. we wanted to speak to and reinforce not just address an enforcement agency liability issue. the members of both the plaintiff's bar of organized labor and trade associations from academics for social scientists, compliant x and
worker advocates. there were concluded in june june 2016th the report almost 30 years to the day after the united states supreme court handed down its landmark decision savings bankers which it held for the first time that sexual harassment was a form of unlawful discrimination. we took a number topline lessons learned to the task force which i would take this opportunity to share. first workplace, workplace harassment remains a persistent problem almost one third of the 90,000 charges received by the es en fiscal year 2015 included an allegation of harassment. this includes harassment on the basis of, race, disability age ethnicity, color or religion. second, what placed harassment particularly sexual harassment too often goes unreported. the lease, in response to
harassment is for an employee to take some formal action either to report a rosman interminably or file a legal complaint. these may not report harassing behavior because they feared this release or inaction on their claim, blame our social or professional retaliation. third, an effective anti-harassment effort must start at the top in leadership and accountability are crucial. this cannot be overstated. the efforts of what is culture in which harassment is not tolerated must start at the highest level of management in an organization must have systems in place that hold employees accountable for expectation. finally, training must change. much of the training done over the last 30 years has not worked as a prevention tool. it's too focused on avoiding legal liabilities. we believe affect your training can reduce the face harassment, but even i cannot occur in a vacuum.
it must be part of that homeless at culture of non-harassment and one size does not fit all. training is most effective when tailored to the specific work place in cohorts of employees. i understand the committee is contemplating changes designed to address workplace harassment in the legislative branch. i'm happy to offer my thoughts on these proposals in the interest of giving the full background of my written testimony includes a lengthy discussion of the eeoc procedures with a two discrimination charges in the private and federal sectors. i would commend to the commission -- to the committee a set of promising practices for preventing and combating rep is harassment recently published on our website which has been provided to committee staff. i reiterate a key finding of a task report. the system of training, monitoring or reporting is likely to succeed in preventing harassment in the absence of
genuine public buy-in from the very top levels of an organization. we can't and must do better at all for work places. i'm pleased to answer any questions you may have and as you said, i'm a former house stuff for myself and in familiar with working in the legislative branch. >> thank you very much. the chair will now recognize ms. grundmann. you're recognized for five minutes. he might good morning, mr. chairman, ranking member brady and distinguished members of the subcommittee and yes, on behalf of the office of compliance and our entire board of directors to join me here today commit thank you for the opportunity to discuss our process and concerns. we supporting commend the efforts of the committee in the members of congress from mandated work place right training for everyone to notice postings of those right. over the last six weeks we've seen a triple digit percentage increase in the number of requests for sexual harassment
prevention training. a triple digit percentage increase in the number of staffers enrolling in our online training module. twice as many to our online information about how to report sexual harassment. 12% surge in the number of people subscribing of our social media platforms on rights and protections and i'm happy to report that posters notifying employees that their rights are flying off of our shelves with orders arriving late last week. these numbers on train numbers tell us something. people are finally taking seriously the problem we been sounding the alarm and have been proactively working to combat for years outreach and education programs. however, mandatory training and posters are the floor, not the ceiling and even though share lipnic notes in her statement has not not worked as a
prevention tool, we have over 20 years of non-mandatory training and here we are today. she reached the ceiling, not only should our process change which we hope to discuss today, but as the chairman noted gratis say, publicly and forcefully the culture was changed and not shipped includes not just change to our process, but a shift, a policy, sexual harassment prevention policy currently not mandated under the law that policy should include examples of a con to take harassment can reporting procedures, standard of conduct at the appropriate level and accountability. the discussion is proof that members of this committee and the watershed moment are validating them focusing on an issue invalidating affairs to help build a strong culture to
lead your respect. let me note, media reports have per trade us as opaque byzantine shrouded in secrecy. while we understand that these comments are directed at our process and not individuals, these comments nonetheless sully the reputations of the 20 women and men who report to our office every day for work including occupational health and he is a yours at the capitol grounds for hazards and public access, including a deputy executive director who trained 500 people in person over the last six weeks and not all at once, but in one and two and 10 including our only alternative dispute resolution count or who meets with employees at the beginning of the process to hear their stories, to advise them of their right to comfort them in their
distress. this is the process congress designed in 1995. a process that not only demand confidentiality but under the law. a system we've been tasked to administer. a process congress is now seeking to change them to change that we welcome and we hope we will play an integral role. many call this a moment of reckoning. we call it a moment of clarity. clarity with respect to not what we do, what we do under the congressional accountability act. as you deliberate, we ask you bear in mind this is a new day, not just for congress, but throughout the legislative community. the changes you propose should apply beyond the halls of congress and legislative community. during this time, our office stands ready and will roll up our sleeves and the important work ahead. thank you.
i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, ms. grundmann for her testimony. we look forward to asking questions soon. will now recognize the council counsel for the office of how simply the council. welcome, ms. lett. see the good morning. i want to thank you for inviting me for a second time to give testimony on the issue of sexual harassment in the work place. but testimony will supplement the written testimony submitted to the committee earlier this week. i want to start by referring to an opinion piece i read on the cover of the "washington post" yesterday. he was entitled, i was harassed question my story. it was written by women named carissa fenwick. the article she tells her story of how she was harassed here she goes on to say question my story because we need to examine our views about harassment in the conduct and she says by their nature are harassment complaints
are characterized by great areas and witnesses, the dems and perpetrators are flawed in sympathetic. it is important to read the language because it captures better than i could ever do that challenges my office faces as role of counsel for the plane offices on this issue. i read her words to mean there has to be a discussion and understanding around these issues and when i say these issues have been allegations of discrimination and sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination just like discrimination based on race, color, religion, origin, reaching disability. i read her words to mean that automatically care to raising any questions about the basis for sexual harassment allegations as that of blaming is counterproductive and i agree. part of the roadmap is just roadmap is just a question employee claims of discrimination including sexual harassment and to do so is not
that i'm blaming. on a personal note, like most women in this country i have experienced sexual harassment in the work place. it occurred during the early part of my employment and my way of dealing with it was to leave a job that i like. as a woman of color i've also experienced race discrimination in the work place. i work for a private company were a white manager brought in a bid, which he prominently displayed in his office and when questioned about it he said he wanted to quote, unquote motivate the black employees that i believe these and other experiences have made me more sensitive towards allegations of discrimination, not less in the probably a better lawyer because i understand the perspective of the employee and employer. they also try to lead by example is that of my office. posing difficult and challenging questions to employ is most often through their lawyers is
necessary to assess whether sexual harassment has occurred and correct the many inappropriate hater. on the other side of that equation, when we are contacted about these issues, which unfortunately does not happen in all instances and her client tell us they have done absolutely nothing wrong, we question that, too. we are not in the business of covering up unlawful behavior, but rather we examine those gray areas i mentioned earlier by conducting thorough investigations had been working with our clients to figure out how to address the concern both legally and practically. the congressional work place is a microcosm and in many ways reflects across america. yes, sexual harassment occurs in the congress like a dozen other work places and while there were serious allegations of sexual harassment and borderline criminal behavior and some of them says tends to receive the most attention from the media,
those types of allegations are not the normal capitol hill and not in my offices collected six. spirit of course i recognize this behavior does go unreported and may account for some of that. i want to answer the question of what has worked to address the concern about sexual harassment. i wish there was an easy answer but there's not. although it is not a panacea, i believe mandatory in person training is very helpful. i trained quite a few members on this issue lately and the response has been encouraging. i'm hopeful that training has meant that members are talking directly with their employees and telling them they should come forward without concerns of fear retaliation. employees won't always believe that, but this is still a positive step and it might help to change the perception held by sound that these issues should not be reported. the training does work effectively, but it does work
effectively with members schedule it. .. chairman harper, ranking member brady, and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. my name is dan crowley, partner at the lawford of k and l gates and i know at the outset my comments are my own and do not represent the views of the firm. i had the privilege of serving as counsel to the committee under congressman bill thomas from march 1991 through early 1998, a. the start of the republican revolution of 1994.
the congressional accountability act was the first law enacted by the new republican congress in 1995. however, it is important to note that these are not fundamentally partisan issues rather they are institutional in nature. in fact, the committee's consideration of this legislation began under the previous democratic majority. the basic principles that in the past guided the committee in this area are one, if a law is right for the private sector it is right for congress. two, congress will write better laws when it has to live by the same laws it imposes on the private sector and executive branch and three, the separation of powers embodied in the constitution must be respected. the challenge faced by the committee more than two decades ago was to reconcile these principles. at that time, it was felt that the procedures established to provide a means for addressing grievances by employees must take into consideration that in the congressional context allegations can be career ending
even if they subsequently proved to be untrue. the key constitutional provision that issue is speech or debate clause which is repeatedly been interpreted by the us up in court as providing immunity for members of congress for not only speech or debate in either house but also for other matters of the constitution places within the jurisdiction of either house. moreover lower courts have ruled that speech or debate cause immunity attaches to employment decisions by members of certain circuit circumstances. against this constitutional backdrop the committee sought to establish a procedure to address violations of the federal labor implement laws by members of congress. toward that end the caa provided for the creation of the office of compliance and the legislative branch and charged it with responsibility for promulgating it for many regulations, conducting studies and importantly carrying out a program for educating employing authorities.
perhaps the most significant provisions in the caa provide for a right of limited judicial review. however the caa was carefully crafted to avoid waiver of speech or debate cause immunity. for example section 502 provides it shall not be a violation of any employment termination provision to consider the party affiliation, domicile, or political compatibility with the employing office. in other words inspectors provide affirmative defense to allegations of determination. as described in the committee report this provision in the exemptions listed there in recognition the special nature of employment in congress by allowing member in offices and committee leadership offices to incorporate these three factors and employment decisions without prejudice to the legality of such decisions. the political compatibility exemption while subject to broad interpretation is intended to provide members, committee officers with more flexibility than available under the party
affiliation and domicile exemptions. the jurisprudence enactment of the caa makes clear that employment cases in which speech or debate cause immunity is asserted it will be up to the courts to determine whether the privilege applies on a case-by-case basis. i note that notwithstanding the caa the committee on ethics has broad discretion to discipline members are violating standards of official conduct which may provide another meaningful avenue to explore is the committee considers solutions in this area. in conclusion, the congressional account ability act of 1995 is legislation that attempted to reconcile member intent to subject them same laws impose on others. consistent with the constitutional protections afforded by the speech or debate cause. after more than two decades it
is important to review the caa as well as the standards of official conduct to determine whether updates are necessary or appropriate. these are compensated issues that remain difficult to resolve. that said the steps the committee took more than two decades ago mean that you now have experts including my fellow panelists who are available to ensure that employing authorities are appropriately advised. finally, i believe today, as i did then, that a commitment to taking prompt corrective action up to and including termination must be unequivocal. thank you again for inviting me to testify today, i would be happy to respond to any questions you may have. thank you mr. crowley. we now have time for committee members to ask questions of the witnesses. each member will be allotted five minutes to question a witness or witnesses and i will now recognize myself for five minutes. i will start, if i may, with you. certainly, we appreciate you being here today and the work that you have done in this area of sexual harassment and anti-
harassment generally. i want to focus on your work for a moment as cochair of this task force on the study of harassment in the workplace. the eeoc has created a document entitled promising practices for preventing harassment identifying five core principles around which prudent practices are identified. can you give us an insight as to what practices would constitute an effective sexual-harassment education program and in your opinion -- what have you seen it works or doesn't work? >> certainly. i would tell you, mr. chairman, the promising practices that are on her website are completely derived from our tax force report and the recommendations that we made in the task force report. there are five core principles that we think are important for preventing harassment and again our task force was focus on
prevention. at her very first meeting of our task force we all agreed that we all know what is legally actionable harassment and that that is not working as a prevention tool. we focused on five things. one is there has to be committed and engaged leadership. there has to be consistent and demonstrated accountability within an organization. there has to be strong and comprehensive harassment policies in place. trusted and accessible complaint procedures and i would emphasize trusted procedures and regular interactive training that is tailored to the audience and to the organization. as i said earlier we were very critical of training much of the training that has taken place and developed over the last 30 years as a prevention tool but we do not, by any means, reject
training as a tool. we believe that training is absolutely necessary and what was referred to in particular and she said in person training can make a big difference so we have a number of recommendations about training that has to be customized to that particular workplace and the leadership of the organization has to show up for it and demonstrate that they are interested in it and has to give examples to that particular workplace and it is very important in training that individuals in the workplace focus on training not so much as what is harassment and what isn't but what are the procedures by which people can report and they know who to go to and they know what the consequences will be and what will happen and that's a good important component of the training as well. >> so this will not be as effective unless the person at the top says this will be the
way it will be yes, and i spoken on as many places and you will often times here in particular outside counsel who were called into training and corporations and head of the business unit will show up for the very beginning of the training and say i want you all to pay attention to this and then leave. and so the leadership of the organization has to be as committed to it and as engaged in the training and send the message to the individuals receiving the training. >> thank you very much. if i could now i'd like to ask you a couple questions in the time i have left. would you describe oh x's role in the counsel of mediation phases and specifically is it employed by a office when it's initiated or did mediation begins or does they already have
an attorney-client relationship with house office prior to be notified of a caa claim? >> i'm going to give you a lawyerly response and that is it depends. in many instances we will know when they complain is coming down the pipe and that is because the employing office has contacted us and there's been an employee who is dissatisfied with something that has gone on in the workplace and they have attached it to a discriminatory motive and we worked with the office to try to address the situation and sometimes an employee will have an employment performance issue and they been put on employment is terminated and we work the office through that entire process in anticipate that when the employee loses his or her job that they will go through the office of complaints. we anticipate that and we don't know when someone has gone
through the office of compliance initially for the counseling phase because that is confidential unless the employee waives it. when mediation is requested then we would be notified automatically. again we might know about that at a time or for the first time when we get the notice of mediation. at the mediation phase we represent the employing office and attempt to resolve the matter at that point. >> thank you very much. my type is expired to the chair would not recommend mr. brady for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. of all the cases you handle how much of your work is focused on sexual harassment? >> i anticipated that question and i have a list here in terms of the number of cases and the categories in which they occur. we typically see mostly retaliation cases because when employees file claims they routinely will include a retaliation claim. followed by retaliation is the
americans with disability act claims and race claims and standard act claims, age, family and medical leave act and sex dissemination, generous clinician claims come in at about the same rate. it is followed by sexual-harassment claims, pregnancy claims, national origin and military discrimination claims come at about the same rate and finally, claims based on color. >> do you support eliminating the [inaudible]? >> i don't have a strong position on that one way or the other. my only caution about eliminating that 30 day period is that oftentimes we do settle cases during that period. it would take away another opportunity to possibly resolve that case before a party goes directly into litigation.
in your advocacy for employment offices do you find that your engagement that you are engaged with changes office behavior in the future? >> i think it is difficult for us to know to a certainty whether that is happening but it has been reported back to us that when there has been an instant of an incident of some kind or allegation of determination and an office speaks with us and tries to take appropriate action we do action item after action item with the office. that might involved training for a particular individual or might involve training for the entire staff and it might mean in some instances and not all employee officers have written policies so it might mean sitting with them in adopting those policies,
rolling those policies out with the employees and having conversation going forward. i do think that there is a lot of positive that comes out in some of these situations. >> thank you. for mr. crawley, thank you for your service on the committee and i understand you work with my former counsel charlie who was a real gifted member of this committee. why did congress exclude the library of congress from some of these protections? was that a mistake it should be fixed that and now include the library of congress? >> you know congressman, i have to tell you that my recollection of these is now 22 years old and so i don't remember every discussion we had. i can. >> i can appreciate that, sir i do recall a number of
conversations involving the library whether the police forces ought to be unified and i don't remember the specific discussion about the library although i think the answer might be and i defer to my colleagues that they were already covered to a certain extent under federal law, if i am not mistaken. >> yes. >> perhaps i can provide insight. the library of congress does have its own internal personnel system that is a system entirely internal. there is a hearing process in the library of congress the hearing officer's decision is merely a recommend decision in the must be forwarded to the library library and where she can either accept or reject that decision. >> do you think we should include the library of congress in this ongoing hearing and discussion for a bill? >> we do. >> thank you.
in june 16 you write about the risk factors in the workforce among them are many that you work with officers significant powers of disparity. congress is obviously a dramatic example of both of those risk factors. we passed the resolution focused on training but no one believes that training is enough. this hearing is about improving our laws and that is important but also not enough. we really need to change the culture so based upon your experience providing training what other work we do to change that culture? >> thank you mr. brady. one important point that i think the committee should consider as you are looking particularly at revising the congressional ability act and this is -- i would look to the testimony from congresswoman spear from your november hearing. there is a difference between what immediate action has to be taken when someone is concerned and complains that they are being sexually harassed versus what is all of the process that the office of compliance deals with in-house employment and
when you are looking to is there liability. and so, as representative spear says have to be concerned about what is happening to that person that complained about it when she is still sitting there in the workplace. i would urge you to bifurcate your thinking on this and understand that that immediate action in that investigation that has to take place which i think the house employment counsel, i understand from the testimony, does a lot of that and you should consider how detailed you can be and how you can instruct your work environment as to how you want to deal with those immediate issues of harassment. think of harassment claims different from other types of dissemination claims so it is one thing to allege you do not get promoted to a particular job in an office because based on
your sex and that is very different from harassment complaints and harassment claims. the immediate investigation that has to take place which may be referred to the house implement counsel's office or maybe the office of compliance does that and i would urge you to think about what is that process and what is that type of corrective action that is taking immediately and then again his very different from all of the other process that is in place that determines is there liability here. that is one thing i would urge you to think about. overall terms of culture it is very much what are select test course spent a great deal of time on and there are a number of things that will influence the culture again including what is the message that is being
sent from the top and is the leadership organization owning each individual workplace. you have a lot of, as you mentioned, the number of risk factors in congress, you young people, your people working in very close quarters, you people working very long hours and there's a recommendation and one of the bills that you do a climate survey and those are things and make sure that you are reviewing but culture and the message that is sent from leadership and engagement within each individual office to address that are very important factors and can do the most to act as a prevention tool. >> thank you. i thank you for all the witnesses for being here and for
your testimony. it's important to have educated testimony. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> the chair will now recognize the vice chairman of the committee, mr. davis with five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to all of our panelists. thank you all for your testimony. to begin i believe it up and take away from our previous hearing is the need for the oh oh c to become more familiar with policies and procedures not only is the workings of both our organizations but how the ethics committee works as well. i also encourage outreach and so you have a sense of how best we can work together to serve in improve this great institution. i want to focus my questions today on this gunman. i really want to focus on olc's outreach to the hill. your testimony discusses the need for new employees to receive training and how is the
ooc reaching employees with current information? >> we have a unique mandate and were compelled to train on our statutes by the law and it's a very robust program which is for a very small office administered mainly largely by two people. as i stated in my opening statement, 500 people have been trained in person in the last six weeks in our online training module has soared in recent times and i'll use an example. in september by people completed the online training module for sexual harassment prevention training. in october it was 618. in november it was over 4000 with 800 people rising just last. in addition to this type of training we are developing new training. coming on december 10 is a new comprehensive online module that talks about anti- harassment and antidiscrimination and anti-
retaliation. infection right now is an overview orientation of the congressional accountability act. right now we have a new module coming up as well that will focus on how to report sexual harassment, how to respond to sexual harassment and behaviors that could lead to sexual harassment. in addition must talk about new employees. we don't know who these new employers are. we have and we would love to be notified as to when new people are unsupported so that we can communicate with them directly. >> let me get this straight. there's no contact between our office, our payroll office here at house of representatives, and your office with a new employee comes on board? >> that's correct. >> you mentioned in your testimony you wanted to reach for younger staffers and what are you seeing the younger staffers taking these training modules that you just mentioned in the last few months or do you
show by age how will you -- >> let me answer that question. we don't know exactly the age or the person taking the module. we just note the hits that we are receiving. but we could explore doing and we could do it with this committee and the members of the panel is a particular module designed to specifically for new employees and younger employees. they do things different issues. >> okay. i think it's a great point that there are probably needs to be more communication between our offices that are run by the cao and to make sure those modules are out there in training is in. i think it's also important that we develop your management training because they'll be the first ones that an employee will go to to address the process and i think our senior managers need to know more about the process. how can we address that?
>> there is a module in place on antidiscrimination and anti- harassment and anti- retaliation. that meets the standards for managers in the senate. it is there already. >> excellent. it is when he talked about how you hope to strengthen ooc in your outreach programs and we look forward to working with you to do that. i do want to point out that the author of the congressional credibility act our former colleague is in the audience today and thank you for your work on this congressman chase. i do want to point out while i have a little bit of time and i noticed that we have many of your annual reports that will come out every couple of years and there wasn't a lot of focus and i would hope that as we move forward that the oc and those who make up the agency would help us and help you identify how we can better serve all of our employees at all levels and also understand how we can get anybody who may be a victim in front of you in front of the
office and on the path to get the problem rectified. that is the goal and i appreciate you being here. >> great. we couldn't agree with you more. >> thank you. i you back. >> the chair will now recognize the gentleman from maryland, mr. raskin for five minutes. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. i want to begin the question with [inaudible]. the less power and inequality that women have in the workplace the more vulnerable they are to sexual harassment. i think we've got to take it as both a sign in the cause of progress here that we have 84 women, i forget us, and the u.s. house today and 21 in the senate. one can only imagine the conditions of sexual harassment when the senate and the house were all male or virtually all male. but i saw an interesting comment by barbara wright who is noted
class bias in the sexual-harassment discussions that we been focused on lots of women who are in a professional johnson she said people are not talking about the hotel workers, the farmworkers, the waitresses face rampant sexual harassment and so on and i'm just wondering is there anything we can do that will benefit everyone, if not in the same legislation necessarily are there policies can advocate that will make a change for people across society? >> thank you for that question. in our work at the oc pc harassment claims across industries, across income levels from the executive suite to the factory floor to the farmers fields. we had horrendous cases of harassment for particularly vulnerable workers. as part of the reason why when we put our task force together
we included representatives from worker advocacy group so certainly things that are more outreach along those lines and that recognize the work that advocacy groups, worker advocacy groups, can play and how individuals who are in vulnerable work situations can go to those organizations and seek summer dress. certainly one thing to consider and this is something we have in the federal sector and there is different information provided in different languages and so you are reaching populations that are particularly for farm workers who english may not be their first language so that certainly one thing to consider and in terms of legislative
changes in terms of title vii i'm not sure there is anything that i could recommend right now and i certainly would be happy to give more thought to it. >> let's pursue that. i thank you very much. let me ask you begin by mentioning the interesting article which i thought to question my story by victim of sexual harassment and you invoked her description of gray areas and third-party witnesses and so on and brought to mind the ascots for gerald saying that the sign of first-class intelligence is the ability to hold country thoughts in your mind at the same time and still conduct yourself effectively. everyone agrees we need zero-tolerance and a process fear to the victims fear to the accused but the problem is that today they think our process is so cumbersome and convoluted
that its purpose is not to discover the truth but somehow to bury the truth or to compensate the truth. that is the public perception and what we do to make sure that we do have a process that is fair, that's perceived as fair and that also moves things quickly enough to let people know that we take the issue seriously. >> as i mentioned before when i was asked the question about the cooling off. i don't have a practical reason to think that this is not a good idea. certainly it will not change how we do business and so eliminating possibly that particular piece of the process might be helpful. i do think that off the compliance i can speak more to this -- >> to be clear, you say we don't
need the cooling off. >> for my perspective i don't think it's needed. as i said the one reservation i have is that it does provide an additional a chance to resolve the matter before full-blown litigation begins. i do think it's important to communicate to employees their rights. that is not my job, not our offices job and i know there have been over the years efforts by the office of compliance and i remember when i first started we would get paychecks and there would be communication about the office of compliance and so more efforts of course to train employees to make them aware of their rights and ongoing litigation i think would be helpful. i have to say the bar is very savvy about these rules and typically employees don't have problems getting attorneys to represent them. most of the concerns i've heard is that the process is lengthy so eliminating a cooling-off period would be helpful.
>> thank you. >> gentleman yelled back in the chair will now record as the gentle lady from virginia, ms. comstock, for five minutes. >> i want to focus on what you cited is one of the best prevention methods which is the trusted complaint procedures. we have the procedures by law you are required to have so i appreciate you laid out what we have to deal with both sides but we've been talking about a number of us talk about having some type of victim advocacy having a separate person for the victim whether it's an advocate, victims counsel and wouldn't that help if we had someone where the victim can go and even if they had the training and you're in that situation we have special people for rape victims and they go in your walk through the process and at that point when you're in crisis.
so if we could have somebody that we could go to and wouldn't that improve this whole dynamic of the experience and putting them on a level playing field and helping them through this process. start with you. >> sure. i think that's a very valuable suggestion and one of the things i would tell you is that when we do the work of the tax course we actually invited people from the pentagon, from the defense department because of what they have been dealing with for the last 14 years in their own internal procedures as to sexual assault in the military and so having a victim advocate is something i know that they set up there and i would urge you to consult with the generals there been dealing with that and they would have more experience with that that is something i thank you are focused on that
addressing the immediate situation and for the person and what can help them in that immediate situation and how will they know what will happen and what's the corrective action that is taken immediately. it needs to be a big focus. >> thank you. i know that congresswoman spears legislation and congressman burton talk about it and i do want to thank the lady again because when i asked about what her situation and i asked what we could do that would help and it was the single thing she identified that i do think just thinking about that experience i think it's very important that we get that in the legislation. and also have that in viewed through the training also. perhaps on the training process to when someone sets up a house
account in their new employee maybe we can have more socialization and getting the information directly to them in multiple methods, not just here's the classic you can go to but to make sure were getting more information out that way. and then i wanted to look at the office of compliance. i know you are continuing to go to the record and give us information on the overall cases and i think he went to the type of cases are getting but given the public's concern in the public right to know about what type of cases you are dealing with and particularly when members are involved and or members are staffed do you estimate you will have that information soon so that we can have that available for the public and whatever legal weight your loud but have a much more detailed accounting? >> let me address the victims
counsel specifically because it was part of our statements. we understand that during the counseling stage and certainly the mediation stage when the office was office was recognized by ohec and the victim was alone and felt severely added disability but we need to beef up the counseling stage the counselor actively participates in technical advice in drafting a complaint. that coupled with investigatory authority given to her general counsel to investigate these claims as it emerges can be a form of advocacy on behalf of the employees. in response to the question this dovetails into mrs. brooks request to us regarding the ethics be provided a response this morning and as law is currently written it's difficult for us to produce this kind of information because we know that the counseling is strict confidentiality and that binds
our office from discussing it, the employee office is not told. in mediation there is also strict confidentiality and that specifically adheres to the products of materials that are produced in mediation. that is again strictly confidential but it's not unusual in our process and throughout the industry. our loss simply requires in terms of producing information in the rules is numbers and types of inquiries that come to our office and number of types of requests for counseling and number of employees to the complaint the file in the claims they raise and the disposition of those claims. in terms of disclosure to ethics we to our knowledge have not received any request up until
this recent one so we appreciate the concern. the law as it currently written only allows us to disclose this type of information in a very narrow system stands when under two conditions -- when the case reaches a final decision and the employee is consulted. so in the event that we cannot release documents with respect to counseling, mediation where there is no final decision and when the employee has not been consulted. having said that he would like to work this committee to change that rule and the potential change really goes towards granting us the authority to investigate claims. if the general counsel were granted that authority it would be similar to what we have in ada and osha in the general counsel at that point could find if there were reason to believe the law had been violated and a report can be generated in that report could be made available
to you. >> okay. mr. chairman, i would mention i hope you can get much more detailed information and if we need to make changes to allow you to do that because if were going to correct the process we need to know what has happened where the complaints have been and i noticed we did get the committee got a report on november 28, a memo detailing from 19,972,007 where it laid out the 90% of the cases were with the architect in the capital please probably a lot of safety things but we need to know what other type of cases and when members or member offices are involved in how we will do that going forward but i think the public's right to know that going back and certainly going forward how we can improve that transparency and i hope we can work with us on that in getting us more detail. >> understood. >> the chair will now recognize the gentle lady from california
for five minutes. >> thank you. my apologies for being tardy. the fbi director was over in the judiciary committee and i had to be there for a bit and i think my colleague has the same conflict. this is obviously a serious matter for us and we are very clearly going to change the procedures and statutes that we have. the question is how to do that and how to avoid pitfalls and i'm interested in the recommendation you made on the additional powers through the general counsel that you just referenced. specifically, how the council would use those investigative powers to get to the facts of the matter that you currently can't do. what complex might exist is that were assigned to you and could you more fully explain that to us? >> absolutely. rather than reinventing the
wheel were using the internal mechanisms that we currently have. general counsel does have investigatory authority in certain areas such as in osha and ava and how that really works is a claim can be filed anonymously which is unusual. it's not the same in the labor forum but the current practice would be we would work with the employing office and that will not work in that particular circumstance but in the investigation there is a move toward resolution because in osha cases and ada cases there's a lot of dollars involved. there's a significant amount of negotiation and discussion. if the matter is not resolved it could result in filing of a complaint by the general counsel and the general counsel represents the employee in this case and moving the case
forward. that is the process we envision putting into effect. the reports are not made public and they are given to the party that can control the outcome and can fix the outcome, if you will. if the process is in place in the concern we have is the lack of staffing. we don't know how great the volume will be. >> of course. one of the things that i think we want more transparency on is the issue if you have an employee, employer, employee dispute. for example, under the act we adopted in 1995 certain employees are exempt from overtime in certain employees are not in this is in the private sector. you can have a dispute about that category in a fight about
overtime. i don't know that that needs to be have the same level of disclosures as a sexual harassment thing. we want to stop that out and part of the way to do that is to have some daylight on this process. one of the things i thought about and my colleague has done on the work on this bill but it's how do we make this transparent in a way that protects the victim who want to maintain their privacy but some victims are bullied into a confidential agreement. i'm just wondering in terms of what other people in an office where their sexual harassment and what their role is an obligation is and are they constrained by their agreements that are being undertaken right now? >> part of our training in the
future coming soon will cover bystander training. specifically, how do people who view this type of activity and what are they doing and this is something representative spears mentioned previously in terms of our training. it's a hard area for us to deal with and the competency of a is currently in the rules prohibit us from having a conversation. >> but we can change that. >> and let me urge this committee as you go about changing these roles one of the communities that you need to reach out to really is the [inaudible] >> right, and we are desperate. >> we also talk about nondisclosure. it's a very confusing area but we have a very simple answer. we don't require nondisclosure agreements. it's a product of the parties and we don't provide standardized language and we don't require anybody to find it sign a nondisclosure agreement to come into our system.
>> all right. that is important but certainly the inherent power differential between say a member of congress whose harassing and a staffer who has been harassed in pretty extreme and i think i read an article recently about a young woman step forward and has never been able to be employed again even though she did the right thing so certainly we need to get our heads about how to protect victims even beyond a settlement agreement and i see my time has expired. mr. chairman, thank you for your testimony. >> the chair will now recognize the gentleman from north carolina, mr. walker, for five minutes. >> thank you. thank you for your leadership not just on this committee but the example you set in our entire conference. i have a couple questions for mr. crowley. it is come to our attention that
federal agencies are required to reimburse judgment funds for judgments against agencies and settlements for determination in the workplace. yet there is no comparable requirement for congress. when we talk about liability what discussions were held prior to or during consideration of the accountability act regarding personal liability or settlements and final judgments awarded under caa? >> well, congressman, my lam mey is too decades-old here. as i recall there was a very clear discussion early on that would have simply prohibited personal liability for members as well as punitive damages. that changed is the process unfolded to limiting the ability to pay judgments out of the new one that was created and of course those discussions occurred extensively with the subcommittee with the provisions had a significant input into
that decision but i think the general notion was that it is not the member personally but the employee office of the member so if a member leaves office there would still be the ability to get restitution from the office after the fact so i think it would be aberrational to hold members personally responsible when in fact it's in employing office of the congress for all other purposes including the federal tort claims act. >> okay. let me ask you this then is there any provision in the congressional account ability act or house rules that would permit the use of the mra funds to pay for settlement at any point during the dispute resolution. i'm not sure there's a clear answer that question. there is in the statute a limitation on what funds can be used to settle claims but of
course members have broad description over the use of the mra and i imagine that in certain circumstances particularly when the part of the settlement involves reinstatement to position that is presently the mra would use yeah, and i can't imagine that wasn't part of the discussion with the member would have an going back to those issues it was much higher than they exist today but to make settlement or conflict resolution or maybe an employee didn't feel but the authority are the ability to cover up such office behavior, wrongdoing, harassment and leaves a lot of discretion in the member's hands so is that what you're telling me that there can be a separate settlement or payment outside of the congressional account ability act using the mra? >> i think members implicitly have that authority you have to remember that at the time the mra didn't exist until bill thomas created it. before that we had the lead
different allowances that were consolidated with the specific intention of giving members discussion on how to deploy those resources to such an extent that the committee was renamed from the committee on health and ministration to the committee on house oversight to emphasize the fact that is not going to be determined at the committee level by the individual member. i think there is some conflict between the congressional account ability act language and the inherent authority that members have over the mra that your testimony highlights the speech and because in the constitution. can you explain to the committee how this clause has been interpreted by the supreme court in its applications with the context of the congressional account ability act? >> yes, sir. the lower court and i don't think the subpoena for his role to the lower courts of the dc circuit in particular has ruled that the speech and because it does not preclude suits under the congressional account ability act but there is still
remains the immunity that is essentially an affirmative defense that members can assert and so he created sort of a great area. stepping back to the original discussions around the acts there was case law saying that it's unclear whether congress can waive its constitutional privileges but any waiver would have to be explicit and unequivocal. i would have to say that in a congressional account ability act we created. >> one must question principle yes, sir no. do you believe it is wrong for members to use the mra to settle interpersonal sexual harassment claims? >> my personal opinion is that the taxpayers should not be. >> thank you. i yield back. >> the chair will now organize the gentleman from nebraska, mr. smith, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to our witnesses for your interaction today among
members and certainly a very serious topic. it is interesting and i appreciate my colleague comstock's recommendation for a victims advocate and if each of you starting with mr. krugman and if you can express how that might be able to be brought in to the existing process and what changes might need to take place so that that is the decision to make changes if that would work and how that might work and was lip that, if you could perhaps express your knowledge how that has done elsewhere and how that has been. >> sure. what we propose really is beating up what we already have rather than throwing out what we have in creating a separate office. to take the counselors position and make it much more interactive process with the employee whereby the employee and the counselor would help
technically advise the employee on how to draft a charge or complaint. coupled with using the general counsel and giving him the authority to investigate claims in the dispute resolution program if the general counsel were to find that there were reasonable cause to believe the law were violated he would actually represent the employee in further administrative processes. >> thank you. >> i would have to think a little bit more about how we work in terms of the specifics but i can tell you that it would likely be a welcome thing from my clients perspective in that i think an advocate would encourage employees to come forward sooner rather than later and that is music to our ears certainly because the sooner an
employer knows that there is an issue the sooner they can address it. it's not a good model when things barrel weight on the track in the employee feels that he or she has to go to the office of plans for relief. i think that absolutely could be some apply to that. >> thank you. >> all i would add by the time people are coming to the eeoc to file charges of his condition they are at that point we are investigating for liability purposes so there is no victims advocate advocacy role on the part of the eeoc on self. >> okay. thank you. mr. crowley, do you wish to comment? >> i think it is an interesting idea and it's amazing to me the extent to which the issues have been fundamentally changed. the intent at the time was to create a process that would both encourage victims to come forward and allow for resolution in a way that didn't incentivize clinically charged claims
immediately before the election. anything consistent with those objectives with the sound like this might be with worth pursuing. >> thank you. i'll back. >> the chair will not recognize the gentleman from georgia for five minutes for questions. >> thank you all for being here. of all the issues that i ever thought i would be dealing with when i iran for congress this was that one of them and, it's the idea of the most respected legislative body in the world reputation is. hundred buyers discussing this but it is extremely important and it boils down. reality there's nothing we can do affect some character that we can remove the bushes that allow them bad characters to fight clients and that is the direction that we are looking for. you describe in detail the
process makes several recommendations the one area you didn't really address is ooc's role in mistreating the word settlement. can you take us through your role in the payment process one the judgment is reached? absolutely. let me clear by. the statute refers to funds that are appropriated by the treasury and in actuality there is no funds. it is an account in that account is empty until we requisition the funds for particular award or settlement. also to be clear about the settlement account 17 million we talked about, yes it covers settlement from our dispute resolution process but it also covers the awards and sediments from district court and it also covers those that arrive out of the arbitration process for various collective-bargaining agreement such as the architect of the capital capital please.
>> i asked the question? it's a 0-dollar account. something occurs like were talking about here where is the money? do we requisition. if the account is the telephone went through the money to the vehicle of a war should be familiar with our role in settlement is purely serial. is the parties to the terms is for them to agree upon ohec to secure the proper authorities from this committee when they come out of the treasury to the house and should congress desire to beef up our role for instance by giving us a greater review toward legality of these decisions they would have to change the act. we don't have the authority and the only thing we look for is whether it is signed by the party and it's a written statement. >> can you walk me through this
process. let's say the 0-dollar account you received notice of settlement of x number of dollars and then you request warrant that much money and can you start at that point walk us through sends the money to the account, is at the treasury or house appropriations -- in until the individual filed a complaint received the check and what is the process? >> take a step back. when the settlement reaches the award we review it for two things. in writing and signed by the parties. that is it. that settlement agreement then goes to our case administrator. she obtains payment information from the parties who will receive payment routing information, making information and then the document moves down the hall and goes to her budget office. she actually requisitions the funds and this is the account we are talking about through the
vehicle of the warrant and once the funds are there the settlement agreement actually goes -- >> for the funds come fo from? >> from the treasury. >> of paper thank you. >> been the final step that we have in this process is the agreement goes to to check the information is correct and then the funds are released. at that point our involvement with the fund ends. we do not determine when the person is paid and there could be an offset for instance but we are done with the process. >> okay. is there any other process in their to where congress is anyone in congress is notified of the settlement is to sign off on it or is it just in your office? >> it is the chairman ranking member to sign off on particular settlements that come out of this account and that is the only role. >> so in the process then chairman and ranking member do
sign off on that. >> that would be the question for ms. [inaudible] >> puma was a three could you answer that? >> the answer is yes. if there's a settlement that comes off that has to be approved by the committee. >> okay. thank you. if you do other questions, i have some others but are you back at this point. >> the chair will now recognize ms. spear for five minutes for questions. >> mr. chairman, it's been said a couple times and i want to underscore the importance of having the plaintiffs bar appear for the committee as well to hear from them how the process has or has not been working so we can refine it report. to the last question that was just raised is my understanding in one article that i read that the former chair of this committee declined to approve sexual harassment cases and as a
result the mra started to be used for the process. is that your recollection? >> that is not exactly accurate. there were more than sexual harassment cases that were not approved. >> well, maybe so but were there sexual harassment cases in which the former chair declined to sign off on the ranking member was not made aware of and that's how she was reported it. i'm just trying get caucasian. >> i don't remember the exact number. it may have been one or two but it certainly was not more than that. >> so it is not signed off by the chair then there has to be another way in which the settlement is reached and that in my understanding is how the mra has been used in some cases. i want to focus back on the victim. one of the problems and you made mention of it was that you have a victim who is forward and is
concerned about the fact that she has been sexually harassed either by the member or someone in the office and she has to continue to work in an office. in order for it to be resolved to the office of compliance and she doesn't continue work in the office and the office of compliance has no role correct? ... experience some sort of retaliation would have a separate claim. but here's how the process works. works. the employee comes in, they seek counseling, go to mediation, the office now knows of the claim.
there is retaliation that occurs. occurs. under the current process that employee would have to restart the process again, go back through counseling, go back through mediation. this is why we proposed the possibility of investigations for general counsel and the possibility of amending the complaint so that the charge, the charge of all merge at one point in time rather than going back through the whole system again. >> i'm also concerned we don't have a means yet, possibly should consider this, to allow the employee to work remotely to the extent that they can. in some offices you can't. if you work for the architect and you have to be painting offices you can't do that remotely but it offices where you can, so that there is not the continued environment that is very uncomfortable for the victim. >> may i address that?
there is a way that can happen,, and it has happened in other cases. >> i think we need to make explicit is what i'm suggesting. i don't think it's always been the case for everybody. there was one complaint was filed that went through the process. the employee had to be in the office and i don't think that's right personally. >> i can speak to come i can't speak to specific cases but as i said there's a lot of flexibility in this area. i think this is an area where employees have been very effective. because as soon as we know that an employee is engaged in protected activity we will counsel employment office very strongly that while the underlying case may not have merit, if the employee is retaliated against in any shape form or fashion, if they even have a thought to retaliate they will face a very difficult case. i think we've never lost the
case in retaliation because -- >> my time is running out some going to ask to build ask a couple more questions. >> soft landings. that one case will our family with where the employee absencee summit can find a job in the capital. i'd be interested maybe we don't have time right now but some kind of discussion about what we do for employees who, through no fault of their own, having sexual harassed, have come forward. they now have a scarlet letter that they wear and cannot be employed elsewhere. >> can answer the question just very quickly? under the current law and employee who is left is still aa covered employee up to 180 days from the violation. if there was retaliation, if they met they can still file a complaint for the 180 days. >> what happens if they still want to work in the building? >> larger policy. >> thank you.
>> the chair will now recognize the chair of the ethics committee ms. brooks for five minutes. >> i give mr. chairman and think can fly me to participate. i would like to ask permission to admit, submit for the record the letter that my ranking member and ethics and i submitted and ms. grundmann, just referred to, the lid on december 1. thank you i would also ask minimus consent that we admit into the record the office of compliance response that was received this morning that i have been reading this morning. >> without objection. >> thank you. in our letter on december 1 asked the committee, , because this is eric about the process and about examining reforms congressional accountability act, that's why what is you on. there are many things i i would love to talk about. however, we asked oh oh c2 prompted by the committee with all records in the possession of the office related to any claims
of sexual harassment this commission retaliation and so forth. the response that we received today indicates that you refer, i quickly went to section 14-16 of confidentiality, as i am reading your response you cannot share because of the strict confidentiality rules in any claims that you have been involved in, relative to referrals to ethics, and electric? >> you are absolutely correct. the way the law is written, confidentiality, not only binds the parties, it specifically binds our office in discussing those claims. you are talking about claims over all, the law currently prohibits us from leasing information -- release information in the counseling company mediation, but allows for a very narrow exceptionally
case has gone to hearing and the record final decision has been rendered in the employee consents. >> to that point on hearing it was only when hearing in 2016, correct? >> if that's what's in the letter. >> it's not in the letter. that's a screenshot on your website. >> it's possible that case settled. >> okay. there was one hearing and you indicated that you indicate in this letter that there have been no proceedings before a hearing officer, and hearing officer comes after mediation. it's the in stage of your process, correct? >> correct. >> you indicate that have not been any proceedings before hearing officer or a a board relative to any members or employees? >> correct. that doesn't cover district court. >> the covered the court of appeals. >> does not cover the court of appeals. only covers our administrative hearing process before one of our hearing officers.
>> are you saying there are matters that gone to district court? >> there are matters that a going to district court. >> that you don't have the possession of those records? >> we are not part of the process. >> those people who decide to go to district court, they pursue their own process industry court? >> that is correct. >> we are not getting anything? >> partly? >> we are not going to see anything regarding any, the wii action as much any employment matters. we actually asked related claims to sexual harassment, retaliation or any employment practice. >> that goes back to the law which doesn't allow us to release anything to your committee. but if we were to change the law then we could use the methods through investigation by our general counsel in a report that's generated where reasonable cost been found that the law has been violated could be released to your committee. >> let me ask you as well as ms.
lett, what are your opinions on mandatory reporting to the ethics committee? in harassment matters? >> i is a that's a difficult question to answer. when we handle matters of discrimination and we talk with our clients, we tell our clients that it's possible that we will resolve the case for the case may go forward but there may also be some type of ethics matter that might arise out of the circumstances. so they will know that they may be fighting on two fronts, whatever the claim may be. >> can ask ms. grundmann, in your letter used it state to us that you've encouraged employees who have been the victim that may constitute an ethical violation to contact our committee. how do you do that and to cooperate with our investigation? >> we do that to the counseling. >> is that just written, written
discussion of you provide then that in writing? >> it's generally, counseling is generally by phone or in person. it's a verbal discussion. >> is there any discussion, , im sorry my time is up, but my question was is in discussion about the confidentiality of the ethics proceedings in many ways, not that initial investigations might not be reported by in fact, very often times the witnesses, the complaining witnesses are often kept confidential? >> i believe there is. >> thank you. >> the chair chair will now ree the gentleman from alabama for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate you ally me to participate in his hearing. mr. crowley, i want to make sure i clarify one thing. i don't think you are saying this but of what to make sure we get this very clear. you are not saying the speech or debate clause provides immunity to a member or members office if they engage in sexual
harassment? >> congressman, that's a very difficult question to answer. clearly, the conflict itself is not protected. the question becomes what happens when a member of congress asserts that it is going to action which of course sexual harassment includes was not motivated by what the victim says it was, clearly sexual-harassment under any circumstances -- >> that will not be sexual-harassment then? >> keep in mind sexual-harassment is a form of discrimination under the speedy yes, sir. subset based on gender but sexual-harassment cannot be immunized either united states constitution. >> that's correct. >> wanted to make sure we got that clear. now, want to move to a we do about it. i think where we are really touching is how we investigate and enforcing this. ms. grundmann, you do not have
the authority to investigate or enforce that today in sexual-harassment? >> that is correct. >> but it was an osha case you would. >> that is correct. >> why would there be at distinction? >> we have the same questions. >> mr. crowley, do you want to answer that question? >> you know, the honest answer is i don't recall that i do recall conversations around having the office of compliance play a particular ball with respect to the ada and osha because it was a case of first impression. these are historic buildings. if you're needed be retrofitting of an elevator shaft, for example, it was more involved discussion. that was the reason that the office of compliance was given responsibility in that area but white didn't go further i can't tell you. >> i will say this. a lot of case law occurred in this very after 1995 when we have the decisions in 1998.
a lot happened after that time that you would not of note about the time to write it. you do have the power with regard to people in the private sector. our federal employees who don't work for congress, you do the power to vote investigate and enforce. do you think that the office of compliance should have similar powers when the sort to think come up with regard to members of congress or people that work for us? >> the short answer is yes. >> i like short answers. they are the best. >> again, as you well know and i thought your testimony from november hearing was spot on, again, the point they keep making those the difference between that immediate investigation that has to take place and that corrective action, and then the investigation at the eoc participate when someone comes to us. where investigating essentially
was there an investigation, what happened internally? what was the corrective action taken by the company? but someone needs to be doing that, and now it's my understanding from the testimony that i read that house employment counsel place that personal in terms of investigating members offices. but i think certainly worth considering, do you want to have a third-party essentially who is not then representing the members offices later on in the process conducting that initial investigation? and it also making some determination in terms of liability. >> it's a really sticky issue, and i will look at you for this one. now, in the private sector we don't have public disclosure issues. when we engage in mediation over engage in settlement discussions and reach an agreement, almost always confidential. mediation rules require confidentiality and the
settlement agreement which are contracts have confidentiality revisions in them because of the confidentiality or the promise of it helps foster the negotiations, helps off to people coming to a meeting of minds. how do we resolve that here in the public sector? >> i wish i had an easy answer for you on that one, congressman. there is potential there. often times employees want that confidential because they want to go and get another job. certainly members of congress want that confidentiality goes even if a member or the office has absolutely nothing wrong, putting that information out into the public can certainly hurt. so i don't have an easy answer to that question. i certainly would give some additional thoughts, but it's a very difficult situation. >> thank you, sir. i get back.
>> gentleman just back. i want to thank each of the witnesses for being here today. you have given us some very valuable testimony to consider as we go forward here i particularly want to also thank ms. comstock for her work on this. she is been invaluable to this committee and will be as we go forward. also again want to thank ms. speier and mr. byrne for your participation along with ms. brooke today as ex officio members, and appreciate the insight you given. we have a great responsibility to get this right and to make sure that we continue with the message that one case of sexual-harassment is one too many. how do we make sure that the victim as ms. speier adequately stated, it would make sure the victim is protected? with changes we consider when we
balance the transparency issues with making sure a victim is not a victim a second time because of any changes we make, we want to make sure with your input that we make this in the correct way. it doesn't seem that difficult for members to remember the golden rule and to treat people with respect. and that will solve a lot of our future problems as we try to clean this up. i want to remind everyone that members, that we have five legislative days to submit to the chair additional questions in writing that would be passed on to the witnesses. if we do that we would encourage you to answer those as quickly as possible so those could be made a part of the record. without objection the steering is adjourned. -- this hearing is adjourned. [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] >> coming up on c-span2 a discussion on security threats to democratic elections. after that security threats in north africa. later, former national security officials on diplomacy in the trump era. >> c-span, , which history unfolded daily. in 1979 c-span was created as a public service by america's cable-television companies, and is brought to you today by her cable or satellite provider. >> tonight on c-span2's booktv in prime time focusing on the economy.
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day. >> feasted as some hard-hitting questions about immigration reform and the dream act. we are asking students to choose a provision of the u.s. constitution and creative video illustrating why it's important. our competition is open to all middle school and high school students grades six through 12. when hundred thousand dollars in cash prizes will be awarded. the grand prize of $5000 $5000o to the student or teams with the best overall interest. that deadline is january 18. get details on our website at studentcam.org. >> tonight, bill de blasio who recently spoke at the holiday dinner part of the group progress iowa. here's a preview. >> there's a phrase that should the final all of us as progressives and democrats do in 2018 that's a powerful and simple idea. fortune favors the bold. we have to be uncompromising.
we have to be strong. we are the party of working people. we believe in the labor movement. we have to say it as plainly as that. [applause] >> we believe that those of done very, very well often with all sorts of government policies helping them to do very, very well should pay their fair share in taxes. [applause] >> we believe that public education is the fountain of democracy and fairness in america. [applause] >> so if that's who we are, people will feel it and they will hear it. and you don't need, you don't
need to fall into the trap that unfortunately too many democrats fell into in washington, d.c. to me people inside the beltway decided that you could only run a good campaign if you have a lot of money, and if you needed the money you have to favor the donors and you have to homogenize your message and take away all the rough edges and give them out and not do anything that might offend certain people. guess what we intimately as a party. we were desiccated. our meaning was lost. sure, the donors gave money, and sure the party came up with something that seemed may be kind of like a message. and we lost. we were so desirous of the money that we created a vision and a message we could not win with. that's what happened for years and years. i don't want the money if the money is going to stand between us and the people.
[applause] >> you can see all of newark city mayor bill de blasio z remarks in des moines, iowa, tonight on our companion network c-span start at 8 p.m. eastern. >> c-span cities tour takes you to springfield, missouri, on january 6 and 7th while in springfield where working with media, took for the literary scene and history of the birthplace of route 66 in southwestern missouri. on saturday january 6 at noon eastern on booktv author jeremy neeley talks about the conflict occurring along the kansas missouri border in the struggle over slavery in his book the border between them. >> in 1858 john brown having met left kansas comes back to the territory and he begins a series of raids into western missouri during which his men will liberate its laypeople people m missouri and help them escape to freedom. in the course of this they will
kill a number of slaveholders. and so the legend or the notified of john brown really rose as part of this struggle that people locally understand it's really the beginning of the civil war. >> been sunday january 7 at 2 p.m. on american history tv we visit the nra national sporting arms museum. >> theodore roosevelt was probably our shooting as president. he was a very, very avid hunter. first thing he did when he left office was organized and go on a very large hunting safari to africa. this particular rifle was prepared specifically for roosevelt. it has the presidential seal engraved on the breach and, of course, roosevelt was famous for the bull moose party, and there is a bull moose engraved on the side plate. >> watch c-span cities tour
springfield, missouri, jan were six and seven on c-span2's booktv, and on american history tv on c-span3. c-span3. working with our cable affiliates as we explore america. >> the c-span bus tour continues its 50 capitals tour in january with stops in raleigh, columbia, atlanta and montgomery. on each visit was before state officials during our live "washington journal" program. follow and join us on gender 16th at 9:30 a.m. eastern for our stop in raleigh, north carolina, went on "washington journal" guest is no telling attorney general josh stein. >> next a a look at cybersecury threats to democratic elections. hosted by the council on foreign relations. they discuss the security of voting machines and misinformation spread by foreign governments using social media.