Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation to require all Members of Congress and Congressional staff participate in annual training to prevent all forms of workplace harassment and discrimination.
“Congress should be a leading example of a safe and welcoming workplace. Today’s bill to require training for members and staff is the first step, but much more must be done to earn back the trust of our constituents. The House should immediately end the practice of taxpayer-funded secret settlements for sexual harassment claims, make training extensive and in-person, reform the process for reporting claims, increase transparency and support for victims, and commit to challenging the culture that has allowed this predatory behavior to go unchecked for far too long.”
Bonamici and Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT) introduced bipartisan legislation to prohibit the requirement of nondisclosure agreements in sexual harassment claims brought by the Congressional Office of Compliance.
“I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation that will lift the secrecy surrounding taxpayer-funded sexual harassment settlements. This bill will give victims the right and the freedom to talk about their experiences publicly if they so choose. The current requirement that victims enter into nondisclosure agreements creates a dangerous culture of secrecy and silence. Victims should not be required to sign away their rights in exchange for justice. The American people deserve a transparent government and they should know about the actions of their elected representatives."
“In recent months, I’ve been humbled by the bravery of women in Oregon and across the country who have come forward and shared their stories of harassment. Victims who share their stories often do so at great personal risk, and they frequently take on very powerful people. Women need and deserve to be believed. As a woman in elected office, I have endured inappropriate comments about my appearance; others have endured much more. Everyone should be able to work in an environment where they feel safe and are safe."
“We must do more to prevent harassment, more to make sure victims of harassment can seek justice and more to hold harassers accountable for their actions. We are at a critical and important point in time now that this issue is finally being recognized, discussed, and addressed.