As the Christmas vacation weekend set in, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee revealed a report showing the Senate has spent $1.5 million on sexual harassment settlements since 1998.
The information, supplied by the Office of Compliance, an administrative department that has quietly settled dozens of complaints towards congressional offices, offers little by the use of particulars, past an itemized checklist of violations and the corresponding settlement.
Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, who chairs the Rules Committee, mentioned that additional particulars can’t be made public, as to respect the confidentiality afforded to victims.
“While the Rules Committee has been eager to provide this information in a transparent manner, it has been our priority to protect the victims involved in these settlements from further harm,” the senator stated in an announcement regarding the report. “I am pleased that we have received assurances from Senate Legal Counsel that the release of this data does not violate confidentiality and as such, are able to make it public.”
The report distinguishes between claims made towards member-led offices and “other Senate employing offices.” Individual Senate offices have paid out almost $600,000 in discrimination and harassment settlements, whereas different Senate employers paid out over $850,000. Listed violations include but are not limited to sexual, age, and race discrimination, in addition to violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
The largest settlements concerned cases of race discrimination.
The report doesn’t include details about the alleged offenders, victims, or related incidents. In releasing the information, the Committee noted the Senate doesn’t maintain information respecting a particular person’s settlements, and is subsequently reliant on the OOC’s information.
“It should be noted that the Senate – unlike the House – does not have its own records of individual settlements and therefore cannot independently verify the accuracy of the data provided by the OOC,” the report reads.