As stories of sexual harassment in the workplace have been circulated as part of the powerful #MeToo movement, it has exposed how virulent the issue is across the nation and across all job sectors. It would only make sense, then, for a congressional hearing to be held on the issue.
During such a hearing Thursday, one federal employee revealed her own experience dealing not only with sexual harassment in the private sector but also racial discrimination as a black woman. Gloria Lett, counsel for the Office of House Employment Counsel, testified that, while she worked in the private sector, one of her white managers used to keep a whip prominently displayed in his office in order to “motivate the black employees,” Raw Story reports.
“As a woman of color, I have also experienced race discrimination in the workplace,” Lett said. “I worked for a private company where a white manager brought it in a whip, which he prominently displayed in his office. And when questioned about it, he said he wanted to—quote unquote—motivate the black employees.
“Like most women in this country, I have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace,” she added. “It occurred during the early part of my employment, and my way of dealing with it was to leave a job that I liked.”
Lett testified to the House Administration Committee that “sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination, just like discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, age and disability.”
With veteran lawmakers such as Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announcing their retirements and resignations on the heels of several accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct, Congress has been in the hot seat with how it handles such complaints.
Also being scrutinized is how settlements are reached between a congressional office and an accuser, and where any settlement money comes from, CNN notes.