Capitol custodians complain of sexual harassment

Workers in Tennessee and across the country continue to face serious problems with sexual harassment on the job. Even those responsible for making the laws against workplace harassment have been involved in alleged incidents of sexual misconduct and unwanted advances. For example, reports indicate that members of the U.S. Congress have sexually harassed cleaning and janitorial staff working the night shift and cleaning their offices, while attempts to impose sexual harassment training and prevention standards were diverted.

An inspector general's report was issued to track problems with sexual harassment in the Architect of the Capitol's department for the previous 10 years. The report criticized Capitol officials, noting that some had created a workplace culture that failed to protect workers or stop sexual harassment. The document also identified challenges faced by the agency as it works to improve workplace safety and address key concerns. However, some areas of the agency actually refused to cooperate or provide information to the Office of the Inspector General as it compiled its report.

There were 57 specific sexual harassment incidents identified since 2008 in the report, including cases that involved 24 supervisory-level staff. Around 44 percent of the cases were considered substantiated. However, the report also noted that there is a widespread perception of problems that continue to go unreported. For example, while custodial staff noted complaints about harassment from lawmakers in Congressional offices, they also said that such complaints rarely included formal reports as they feared retaliation.

If workers in the nation's capital continue to face sexual harassment in government buildings, employees in other industries may be even more concerned. People who are the victims of unwanted sexual behavior on the job can consult with an employment law attorney about their options.

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