WASHINGTON – Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement on the passage of H.R. 4924, the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act (CAA) and H Res. 724:
“We applaud the bipartisan effort in Congress to finally protect all the women and men in the legislative branch against discrimination, sexual harassment, and other workplace harassment. Today’s passage of H. R. 4924, the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act (CAA) and H Res. 724 is a sign of the progress that can be achieved when members of Congress listen to those they were elected to represent. This progress would not have occurred if not for the courageous women who came forward to tell the truth about their unfair treatment by powerful Members of Congress. This incremental but important victory was the result of considerable efforts by the civil rights community and the larger #Me Too movement.
“We call on the Senate to take up H.R. 4924 as soon as possible and for both houses on a bipartisan basis to turn next to proposals to strengthen protections against sexual and other workplace harassment and discrimination for all employees outside of the Congress. All employees—whether they are waitresses, auto workers, home care attendants, domestic workers, actors, or lawyers—should not fear being fired or demoted if they report harassment, or have their complaint ignored, or even worse, be blamed in some way for encouraging the harassment. Congress must strengthen our workplace laws so that those days are over and that civil and human rights of all workers are truly protected.”
The legislation passed by the House today, H.R. 4924, if it is enacted., will bring fairness, accountability and transparency to the process. Specifically, it will eliminate mandatory mediation, establishing a more balanced procedure for investigating and resolving complaints, including providing victims with legal advice and counsel; bar members of Congress from using tax dollars and specifies detailed requirements for holding members personally liable; and provide for regular reporting that will inform Congress and the public about settlements and awards due to workplace discrimination and harassment, while protecting the identity of the victims.
The other measure passed today, H.Res. 724, will immediately reform House procedures requiring every Representative’s office to establish policies to address and prevent discrimination and harassment. This bill also establishes the Office of Employee Advocacy and other administrative reforms to carry out the CAA.
Last month, The Leadership Conference and nearly 100 other organizations sent a letter to congressional leadership with recommendations on changes that are needed to the complaint, dispute resolution, and reporting processes. That letter is available here.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.