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Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, and Bullying
Employment Law in California

The Reach and Relevance of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

congressRecently, in an interview with People magazine, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) spoke candidly on the topic of sexual harassment amongst members of Congress, confirming that workplace harassment occurs even in the halls where our federal laws are drafted.

Though she refrained from identifying members by name, Gillibrand reported that one male Southern representative told her, “You know, Kirsten, you’re even pretty when you’re fat.” Another Congress member who ran into her at the House gym said, “Good thing you’re working out, because you wouldn’t want to get porky!”

Gillibrand described that when she was first elevated to the Senate an older male colleague approached her from behind and squeezed her waist, saying, “Don’t lose too much weight now. I like my girls chubby.”

Gillibrand’s interview comes swiftly on the heels of familiar statements by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in April, where in response to Mike Huckabee’s comments on contraception, women, and “their libidos” she stated that his speech did not “stand out as anything unusual from what we hear” on Capitol Hill. She continued to say, “You don’t have a long enough show for me to go into what you hear around here from the members of Congress.”

Congress has long been portrayed as a work environment that is particularly hostile towards women, and both Pelosi’s and Gillibrand’s comments only seem to reinforce this view, standing as evidence of the reach and relevance of sexual harassment in the workplace.

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