Senator Targets Sexual Harassment at Sites Receiving HUD Funds
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), who is on a mission to eliminate sexual harassment at organizations receiving federal funds, including public housing authorities, has introduced the Public Agency Accountability for Sexual Harassment Act. The proposed legislation would prohibit anyone who works for an organization receiving federal funds from engaging in sexual harassment, and require that organizations receiving federal dollars terminate anyone found to have engaged in sexual misconduct and disclose any settlement payments, fees, or fines arising from incidents of sexual harassment.
The legislation was prompted by 2010 revelations of misconduct at the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), which settled sexual harassment claims filed by four women since 2004. According to a HUD Office of Inspector General audit report, the PHA failed to obtain required approval from HUD for most of its legal settlements, and the settlements were never disclosed.
“Over the past year, the work that PHA has done for Philadelphia and the 80,000 residents it serves has been overshadowed by revelations of misconduct,” said Casey. “We must learn from the past and make changes to ensure that this doesn't happen again. When an agency like PHA is working hard to serve its community, it should not have its name tarnished by personal scandals,” he added.
Casey's proposed bill would empower each federal department and agency to promulgate rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of the statute and includes significant due process protections for individuals or agencies. Before anyone could be terminated for sexual harassment or before funds could be denied to a public housing authority, the federal department or agency would need to file a full written report with the committees of jurisdiction in the House of Representatives and the Senate.