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Davis asks if sexual harassment laws will cause fewer women to get DC jobs

Congressman discusses female House staffers' worries

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis brought worries of his female employees to a U.S. House committee hearing. Hear what he said about their concerns that sex harassment allegations could hurt women's careers on Capitol Hill.
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U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis brought worries of his female employees to a U.S. House committee hearing. Hear what he said about their concerns that sex harassment allegations could hurt women's careers on Capitol Hill.

As members of Congress discussed issues of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis posed a thought of how to ensure sexual harrassment doesn’t happen.

During a hearing of the House Administration Committee, Davis, a Tayloyville Republican, said his staff worried congressional offices would hire fewer women to avoid the issue of sexual harrassment.

Davis added hiring fewer women would be wrong, and that he had female staffers who were concerned.

“No one should have to worry about sexual harassment in the workplace,” Davis said during the hearing. “As a former staffer, I wanted to serve on this committee is to continue to professionalize the House and establish a workplace that is grounded in respect.”

Davis’ initial comment however led to immediate reaction online.

Those who weighed include two Democrats, Erik Jones and Betsy Dirksen Londrigan hoping to unseat Davis in 2018.

“As a former committee counsel, I signed on to a letter urging leadership in the house and senate to require mandatory sexual harassment training for all members and staff and reform the system for filing sexual harassment complaints,” Jones said.

Londrigan said Davis’ initial comment was offensive.

“Changing culture around sexual harassment starts (with) leadership,” Londrigan said on Twitter. “Excluding women from workforce is not an acceptable solution.”

Davis Communications Director Ashley Phelps said the comments were politicized.

“As someone who has a female-led office that provides female staffers with the same opportunities as male staffers, Congressman Davis is working to ensure the same applies in other congressional offices, which the Office of House Employment confirmed is not always the case,” Phelps said. “I would hope that everyone who has chosen to politicize this, would instead join Congressman Davis in wanting Congress to be a workplace grounded in respect and a place of opportunity for female professionals.

“As Congressman Davis said during the hearing, he asked his female staffers for our opinion and we all shared instances where either ourselves or another female we knew was not hired, promoted, or allowed to do the same job as a male simply because the office wanted to avoid any appearance of impropriety,” Phelps continued. “This is wrong. This is just one of the reasons we have chosen to work for Congressman Davis – we are not treated differently than our male counterparts and have plenty of opportunities for promotions and grow within our jobs.”

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