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Report: Some Female Capitol Hill Staffers Forbidden to Meet Male Bosses Alone

By    |   Sunday, 17 May 2015 07:39 PM

Some male members of the House and Senate could be breaking the law by not allowing their female staff members to meet alone with them, National Journal reports.

The Journal conducted an anonymous survey of female staffers to find out what obstacles they face and found that some say their careers are hampered by not being allowed the same one-on-one time with their bosses as their male counterparts get.

While those reporting the issue are in the minority, any instance of a woman not getting the same advantages on the job as men is discriminatory and a violation of employment laws, experts told the website. Most staffers the Journal contacted said they had never heard of the practice.

According to those who have worked under such conditions, the purpose of the practice is not a result of a creepy bosses or of female employees acting inappropriately, but rather an attempt to avoid an appearance of impropriety.

"Even though my boss is like a second dad to me, our office was always worried about any negative assumptions that might be made," one staffer said. "This has made and makes my job significantly harder to do."

Some women have had to find jobs in other offices in order to advance in their careers.

Some male staffers told the Journal they have seen the practice in their own offices and ended up benefiting from more face-time with the boss.

Female staffers in some cases have been barred from being alone in a car with their boss or from attending evening functions. One woman told the Journal she had regularly attended evening functions with her boss until she was told one day that would have to stop because she was showing up in the background of too many pictures with the boss.

Republican Reps. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas said they haven't banned private meetings with female staff members, but have taken actions to prevent the appearance of impropriety, including, in Chaffetz's case, not letting any staff remain in the office outside the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine once worked as a Senate staffer, and said she has never heard of anyone banning private time with female employees. She also said it never occurred to her to ban male staffers from driving her around her state.

"To me, that's just extraordinary because of what it implies, the lack of professionalism that it would imply," Collins told the Journal. "It implies that a man and a woman can't have a completely professional, proper relationship. That's just stunning."

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Some male members of the House and Senate could be breaking the law by not allowing their female staff members to meet alone with them, National Journal reports.
house, senate, male, female, meet, alone
Sunday, 17 May 2015 07:39 PM
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