Congress moving toward mandatory harassment training

Tennessee residents may have heard about stories of sexual harassment in the news recently. According to Speaker Paul Ryan, all members of the House will undergo anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training. Staff members of those representatives also will receive this training. The move comes after the Senate approved a measure requiring all that senators as well as their staff and interns undergo training to prevent sexual harassment.

Speaker Ryan says that the goal is to bring awareness of the issue and make sure that it doesn't occur. One representative from Virginia said that she heard a story about a staffer quitting her job after a lawmaker exposed himself to her at his home. The creation of rules related to harassment may help reduce the odds that anyone has to experience hostile working conditions. In addition that story, there have been allegations that other members of Congress have engaged in sexual misconduct.

While naming those who may have committed sexual assault may help bring accountability, it may not be possible to do so yet. The staffer mentioned by the Virginia representative was unable to name who allegedly assaulted her because of a nondisclosure agreement. While most were supportive of actions taken to reduce the odds of hostile workplace conditions, one person mentioned the possibility that some may not hire female staffers as a result.

Those who are subjected to hostile working conditions may have grounds to take legal action against their employers. This is generally true whether someone works at a government agency or in the private sector. An attorney may be able to review a case to determine if actions rose to the level of harassment. Workers may prove harassment claims with direct evidence, such as copies of text messages or emails received from an alleged harasser.

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