New Training Available for Hill Staffers Who Witness Sexual Harassment

Lawmakers implemented training requirements late last year

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., right, and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., introduced legislation to address and prevent sexual harassment for Capitol Hill staff late last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New training is now available for staffers on Capitol Hill on what to do as a bystander or witness to sexual harassment as offices move to comply with the new anti-harassment training requirements implemented by the House and Senate late last year.

“If you see something, say something” may work for unattended bags on  the Metro, but what to do when you’re witnessing sexual harassment in the workplace is less straightforward. The Office of Compliance, which oversees workplace rights and training for Capitol Hill is introducing trainings — both online modules and in-person — on bystander intervention and general training to combat workplace harassment.

“Developing educated, empowered employees is essential to combatting workplace harassment,” said Deputy Executive Director Paula Sumberg, who oversees the OOC’s education programs in a statement. “Our goal is for employees to recognize offensive behaviors and know how to respond.”

Watch: Roll Call Reporters Discuss Covering Sexual Harassment on the Hill in the #MeToo Era

In the wake of high-profile resignations over sexual harassment claims, the House and Senate took action in late 2017 to mandate training for staff, interns and lawmakers themselves. Under the new House rules, training would have to be in person, address options for bystanders and trainees must be allowed to ask questions anonymously.

The new online sexual harassment training from OOC moves away from focusing solely on legal standards of harassment. The new in-person bystander training focuses on how employees should approach targets of harassment and colleagues who make offensive remarks.

Last week the House Administration committee released a document estimating that anti-harassment training in that chamber would cost $3.75 million, beginning in fiscal 2018. The OOC will be tasked with the huge training effort across the Capitol campus, with 30,000 members and staff now in need of training.

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