Those working in the legislative branch of government are likely well aware of all the workplace protections their friends have as employees in federal agencies or the private sector.
So some have asked Congress’s independent Office of Compliance what protections they have if, for instance, they were to blow the whistle on misdeeds by supervisors in their offices.
The answer? None.
The OOC, which was established to oversee workplace protections for the legislative branch, would like that, and other things, to change this year for the thousands of employees who work in Congress and related offices, according to an advance copy of the report obtained by the Washington Post.
The OOC sent House and Senate leadership a report, which it will make public later this week, highlighting “parity gaps” in the laws protecting workers in the private sector and the federal executive branch, but not the legislative.
Among them are whistleblower protections for legislative branch staff who believe there has been a “violation of law, gross mismanagement, or substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.” There are currently no laws shielding those employees from losing their jobs or from other retaliation if it’s found out they snitched.
The OOC also recommended that every congressional employee undergo mandatory anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-retaliation training. There was an effort to do this last year, but for now it’s up to the individual congressional offices to determine whether their employees get such training.
In 1995, Congress passed the Congressional Accountability Act, that created the OOC and made Congress comply with various workplace regulations in other existing laws like the Civil Rights Act and the Family Medical Leave Act. But the OOC notes, “that most congressional employees have limited to no knowledge of their workplace rights.” The OOC recommended congressional offices be required to post notices of those rights for their staff.
And OOC would like to legally change its name to “Office of Congressional Workplace Rights,” so congressional staff actually knows what its there for.