The House of Representatives paid out nearly $350,000 in settlements against members’ offices between fiscal years 2008 and 2012, including $115,000 in three claims related to sexual harassment, according to numbers provided by the House Administration Committee on Tuesday morning.
The figures were released by Chairman Gregg Harper as part of the committee’s review of sexual harassment in the congressional workplace, a high-profile investigation given recent sexual harassment allegations made against multiple members of Congress. The information does not specify which members were involved in the claims or if the members were the subject of the settled allegations.
Harper released the data provided to his committee by the secretive Office of Compliance, which handles workplace disputes on Capitol Hill, on Tuesday.
The Office of Compliance paid $85,000 in the largest settlement pertaining to a “sexual harassment and harassment because of retaliation” claim. An additional $10,000 was paid in a settlement for a “sex discrimination (including sexual harassment) [and] retaliation” claim and another $20,000 settlement was made for a “sexual harassment because of retaliation [and] sex discrimination” claim.
“As I have stated from the beginning of this review, one case of sexual harassment is one case too many. We must create a culture within our Capitol Hill community that instills in every employee and employer, new and old, that there is no place for sexual harassment in the halls of Congress,” Harper said in a statement.
According to the data released Tuesday, the total paid in settlements during this time period against “member-led offices” was $342,226 for 15 settlements, a sum that included amounts made for other claims unrelated to sexual harassment. For example, the Office of Compliance says it paid $78,000 in three complaints alleging age discrimination. Others related to race, sex and disability discrimination.
Susan Tsui Grundmann, the chief operating officer of the OOC, provided the breakdown at the House Administration Committee’s request. In a letter to Harper, Grundmann said “our ability to respond to your request is constrained by the confidentiality provisions of the Congressional Accountability Act (“CAA”) and the nature of the process established by that statute.” Grundmann recently testified before the committee at a hearing.
The figures provided by the Office of Compliance also note $12,240 was paid by “non-member-led offices,” such as committees. That figure represents one settlement for "race and age discrimination [and] retaliation." The total of paid in settlements for all House offices, including member-led and non-member-led, was $354,466.
This is just the latest batch of information released by the committee that gives insight into how much money was paid in settlements related to sexual harassment. Earlier this month, the House Administration Committee released data for 2013 through this year, which included $360,000 to settle six complaints, including an $84,000 settlement for one sexual harassment allegation.
The OOC has not released any similar breakdowns for settlements in the Senate.
Tuesday’s release comes as several members of Congress have resigned or announced that they will not run for reelection following sexual harassment claims made against them.
Lissandra Villa is a politics reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Lissandra Villa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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