July 13, 2010
Taxpayers have paid out nearly $1 million per year in settlements to congressional employees who have been harassed or otherwise treated badly by their political bosses over the past 14 years, according to records from the Office of Compliance.
The payouts stem from hundreds of complaints from employees, some of whom may have been sexually harassed or treated so poorly that third-party mediators were brought in to negotiate cash payoffs to settle the cases.
In fiscal year 2007, for example, the OOC — an agency that administers a confidential dispute resolution system — settled 38 cases, with 25 resulting in monetary awards worth $4 million. In fiscal year 2009 — the most recent year reported by the OOC — the office settled 13 cases for nearly $830,000.
These settlements may be especially relevant if aides who were allegedly abused by former Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) seek restitution. Massa resigned under allegations that he sexually harassed male staffers. Quite often, the harassment cases, after a secretive mediation process, can land staffers retroactive raises, vacation time and cash payouts for their perceived pain and suffering.