Citing PHA as an example, Sen. Casey pushing bill to disclose sexual harassment settlements

U.S. Senator Bob Casey wants to require full disclosure of sexual harassment within organizations receiving federal funds.  Today in Philadelphia, Casey talked about legislation he’s introduced that would prevent a repeat of a recent scandal at the Philadelphia Housing Authority.  The PHA board said its former executive director settled sexual harassment claims without telling the board or the Feds.The Public Agency Accountability for Sexual Harassment Act would require organizations receiving federal funds to terminate individuals found to have engaged in sexual harassment; and require them to disclose settlement payments or other related fees. 

Senator Casey said the disclosures would be sent to the federal agency giving funds and to the relevant members of Congress.”If a taxpayer is providing dollars to a federal agency, and someone within that agency or an agent of that particular agency is engaged in sexual harassment, that taxpayer should know about it,” said Casey.  “So this is about accountability and in the end it’s really about zero tolerance for sexual harassment, especially as it relates to a federal government agency or an entity that’s connected to the federal government.”Casey said agencies like the PHA, that are working hard to serve the community, should not have their names tarnished by personal scandals.  The interim head of the PHA, Administrative Receiver Michael Kelly, said he has a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment.

“The Philadelphia Housing Authority is enforcing strong standards in all areas of ethical conduct,” said Kelly.  “We are working diligently to make sure that we maintain a culture of respect among our employees, and as importantly, for our employees to our clients.”

In 2010, it was revealed that the Philadelphia Housing Authority had settled sexual harassment claims filed against the former executive director.   According to a Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General audit report, the Authority failed to obtain required approval from the Department for most of its legal settlements.  Furthermore, the settlements were not disclosed to HUD.

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