Congressional employees face a confusing process in filing harassment complaints against members or staffers.
Under a process put in place in 1995, a claimant has 180 days after an alleged incident to give written notice to the Office of Compliance. Even to file a complaint, the accuser has to call the office to get an online password to access the form.
Next, they must go through a counseling process that typically lasts 30 days. An OOC counselor — acting as a neutral party — informs accusers of their rights and discusses how the law might apply to their situation.
After counseling, an accuser must go through mediation for roughly another 30 days. During that time, the OOC notifies the claimant's employing office and appoints a professional mediator to try to resolve the complaint.
If mediation is unsuccessful, the accuser may ask for an administrative hearing or file a case in federal civil court. The allegation and the case remain confidential, except in limited circumstances.
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