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FEMALE SENATE EMPLOYEES SETTLE UNPRECEDENTED SEXUAL HARASSMENT SUITS; ROBINS KAPLAN LAW FIRM ACHIEVES VICTORY UNDER CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1991

 WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi today announced that it has settled sexual harassment suits on behalf of two U.S. Senate employees with the highest management office of the Capitol. Never before have Senate employees been able to seek protection from discrimination in employment, and take advantage of related civil rights laws.
 A news conference to discuss the case and settlement is scheduled for 11 a.m. (today) Monday, Sept. 27, at the Robins, Kaplan law firm (advisory follows).
 For two centuries, the United States Senate has been passing laws, and for just as long, the Senate has exempted itself from the application of many of those laws. It was not until the passage of Title III of the 1991 Civil Rights Act -- the "Government Employee Rights Acts" (GERA) -- that Senate employees, for the first time, were afforded the protections guaranteed to all other employees.
 In June of 1992, attorney Sharon Cummings of the Washington office of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, was first contacted by a female chef, Susan Ochoa, of the U.S. Senate Restaurant, requesting representation claiming she had been subjected to repeated and continuous acts of demeaning and abusive sexual harassment by the one of her supervisors.
 The next month, another female employee, Ella Bennett, of the U.S. Senate Restaurant, came forward claiming the same supervisor had similarly harassed her for more than two years.
 Both women complained to all levels of management, including the highest level, for more than two years but they refused to take any type of corrective action.
 Furthermore, during Cummings' comprehensive investigation, U.S. Senate Restaurant management failed to disclose critical documents prepared in connection with the sexual harassment charges. Management's misconduct continued as it threatened, intimidated and humiliated both women who reported to work throughout the investigation and litigation.
 During the course of the investigation, the harasser admitted to the majority of the allegations made against him. Other illuminating evidence discovered, included a letter from the Secretary of the Senate which allowed the harasser to continue to work in the U.S. Capitol Kitchen, even with knowledge that claims of sexual harassment were being made against him.
 Settlement was reached in July 1993 and approved in September by the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration after a two-month hearing by Cummings and Geoffrey P. Gitner, another Robins Kaplan litigation attorney. Although the settlement amount remains confidential, comprehensive training will soon be introduced in an attempt to promote understanding of this difficult issue among U.S. Senate management and employees, as well as the legal ramifications of such conduct.
 Sexual harassment of women in the restaurant industry is a prevalent phenomena that was carried over to the Senate kitchens. By addressing this problem from the top, the attorneys for the plaintiff stated that this case should be taken as a loud and clear signal to restaurants throughout the country that such conduct is no longer tolerable and that female restaurant workers can effectively fight to change such conditions.
 Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi is a national law firm with offices in eight U.S. cities including Washington, and has provided training on sexual harassment in the workplace to corporate managers for more than three years.
 -0- 9/27/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: A news conference will be held today to discuss this sexual harassment suit and settlement with the U.S. Senate. Those present and available for interviews will be: Sharon A. Cummings, lead attorney, Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi; Geoffrey P. Gitner, attorney, Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi; Susan Ochoa, plaintiff; Ella Bennett, plaintiff
 WHERE: Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, 1801 K Street N.W., Suite 1200, Washington, D.C., 20006, 202-775-0725.
 WHEN: 11 a.m., Monday, Sept. 27, 1993/
 /CONTACT: Sharon A. Cummings or Geoffrey P. Gitner, of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, 202-775-0725/


CO: Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi ST: Minnesota; District of Columbia IN: SU:

AL-DS -- MN002 -- 5731 09/27/93 06:00 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 27, 1993
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