A new report on the “State of the Congressional Workplace” shows a significant increase in discrimination and other complaints in the legislative branch.
The report was issued last week by the congressional Office of Compliance, which attempts to resolve complaints of discrimination, harassment and other violations of workers’ rights. The document, which is the agency’s report for fiscal 2011, says 196 claims were filed that year, compared with 168 the year before. Of that 196, more than half, 101, were complaints about discrimination or harassment based on race or color. “Sex/gender/pregnancy” was the next highest category, followed by disability.
The Office of Compliance (OOC) is charged with resolving violations of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, which applies certain private sector and executive branch workplace and worker’s rights laws to the legislative branch. Congressional workplaces covered by provisions in the law include the House, the Senate, the Congressional Budget Office, the Government Accountability Office, the Library of Congress and the Capitol Police, among others.
Job applicants and former employees also are covered in some cases, as are members of the public with disabilities.
In a statement published with the report, Tamara E. Chrisler, executive director of the Compliance Office, said its activities have been hampered by budget cuts. “Reduced funding has meant layoffs, limited services and eliminating certain programs,” she said.
“Lack of funding,” Chrisler added, “has forced the OOC to eliminate effective education and training programs that might have otherwise prevented discrimination and harassment cases from occurring.”
Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at wapo.st/JoeDavidson.