Grassley Wants Senate to Use Trainings as Step in Fight Against Workplace Harassment
Nov 01, 2017
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to the leaders of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration asking that committee to make sexual harassment training mandatory for all Senate offices.
“No one should feel uncomfortable or unsafe at work because of a colleague’s behavior, especially in the halls of the Senate. As a body of elected officials, we Senators have an obligation to set an example,” Grassley said. “Trainings like this are important for cultivating a healthy and productive environment and set exactly the baseline standards that any places of work should have.”
The congressional Office of Compliance (OOC) was established under the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, which Grassley spearheaded to ensure Congress follows the same civil rights, labor, workplace safety and health laws as other federal agencies and the private sector. OOC offers sexual harassment training to Senate offices, but this training is not mandatory, so some may not be receiving it.
Senator Grassley’s personal office and the majority staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee and International Narcotics Control Caucus, which he chairs, are required to complete mandatory sexual harassment prevention and anti-discrimination training. In addition, all staff members are required to review the office’s policy manual, which sets forth specific standards for employee ethics and conduct.
Last year, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration sent a letter mandating that Senate employees take part in a Cybersecurity Awareness Training. Grassley seeks a similar Senate-wide letter mandating participation in sexual harassment training.
Full text of Grassley’s letter follows.
October 31, 2017
The Honorable Richard Shelby The Honorable Amy Klobuchar
Chairman Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Rules and Administration Senate Committee on Rules and Administration
304 Russell Senate Bldg. 302 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Klobuchar:
In 1995, Congress passed the Congressional Accountability Act (CAA). This act required Congress and its associated agencies to follow the same civil rights, labor, workplace safety, and health laws that applied to other government agencies. Although the CAA did not mandate that Congressional offices provide sexual harassment training to all new employees, my understanding is that many personal offices require their staff to participate in sexual harassment training provided by the Office of Compliance for the United States Congress (OOC). But as this training is not mandatory, some may not be receiving it.
I am convinced that sexual harassment training is vitally important to maintaining a respectful and productive working environment in Congress. Therefore, I respectfully request that the Committee on Rules and Administration consider the immediate implementation of a policy requiring all new Senate employees—including permanent and temporary Senate staff, interns, fellows, and detailees—to undergo online or in-person sexual harassment training provided by the OOC, as well as all current employees who have not yet received it.
Last year, on July 14, 2016, the Committee on Rules and Administration distributed a letter requiring all Senate employees to complete Cybersecurity Awareness Training in an effort to protect the Senate’s hardware, network, and data. I believe a similar letter could announce a new policy about mandatory sexual harassment training.
Thank you for your consideration.
Charles E. Grassley
United States Senator