Amid reports of sexual harassment allegations on Capitol Hill, Congress’ Office of Compliance (OOC) released a report that shows 264 settlements over violations of workplace rights in the past 20 years, costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
Since 1997, over $17 million has been paid out from an account of the Office in the Treasury of the United States for the payment of awards and settlements, according to the OOC.
The cases include violations of statues such as the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the report says.
It is unclear how many of the settlements involve sexual misconduct.
The OOC said "the statistics are not further broken down into specific claims because settlements may involve cases that allege violations of more than one of the 13 statutes incorporated by the [Congressional Accountability Act of 1995]."
With recent sexual harassment allegations against Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore and Democratic Sen. Al Franken, members of Congress acknowledged that the system used in Congress to handle complaints favors the powerful and the harassers.
U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., introduced a bill Wednesday that overhauls sexual harassment policies on Capitol Hill. The Member and Employee Training and Oversight On (ME TOO) legislation will require more transparency and provide better support for victims and whistleblowers.
There's no timetable for debate or a vote.
CORRECTION (Nov. 16, 2017, 7 p.m.): An earlier version of this article stated the 264 settlements were all for sexual harassment; they were for a variety of Congressional Accountability Act violations.