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Capitol office cleaners harassed by lawmakers

Florida residents who follow developments in the nation’s capital may be aware that the Architect of the Capitol is the federal agency tasked with the maintenance and administration of the U.S. Capitol Complex. One of the AOC’s duties is to ensure Capitol staff are provided with a safe and supportive work environment, but a report from the agency’s Office of Inspector General suggests that inappropriate conduct is commonplace and steps put into place to curb sexual harassment have been largely ineffective.

The OIG report contains information about 57 allegations of sexual harassment made between 2008 and 2018, and it reveals that more than half of these claims were subsequently substantiated. Worryingly, several of the claims were filed by custodial workers who alleged that lawmakers sexually harassed them while they cleaned their offices. In addition to being subjected to inappropriate behavior, custodial staff said they overheard lewd conversations and found pornography in the offices they cleaned.

While the report does not provide the names of the lawmakers accused of sexual harassment, it is widely known that dozens of senators and members of the House of Representatives sleep in their offices rather than renting apartments in the District of Columbia. This means that it is not uncommon for office cleaners to encounter them while going about their duties.

People of either gender who are harassed while on the job or exposed to sexually inappropriate materials in the workplace may pursue civil remedies. This kind of allegation can cause great harm to reputations that have taken years or even decades to build, and attorneys with experience in this area may urge employers to settle these matters quickly and discretely to avoid potential embarrassment.

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