Harassment Complaints Up at the U.S. Capitol

U.S. Capitol employees are reporting more claims of discrimination and harassment — a 20 percent increase from the previous year, according to a report released Thursday by the Office of Compliance. In fiscal 2013, the OOC tallied 164 claims of workplace discrimination and/or harassment from employees working at the Capitol, anyone from a chief of staff to a Capitol Police officer. The 2012 figure was 134 allegations, but the increase is believed to be from more staffers coming forward, not because workplace conditions have changed. The most common complaints were of discrimination or harassment based on race, followed by sex, gender or pregnancy, then disabilities or age. There were small numbers of allegations based on national origin and religion. An example of such an allegation could be someone not receiving a promotion because of their gender or age. "The OOC has prioritized outreach and education this year, so our hope is that the rise in the number of employees contacting our office with these issues is a byproduct of a more informed workforce," said Scott Mulligan, deputy executive director of the Office of Compliance. Claims of discrimination and/or harassment on Capitol Hill have remained relatively constant since 2009, according to the report. Employees who file requests for counseling often allege multiple types of discrimination, though not all employees who receive counseling decide to file formal complaints. Staffers are protected from such discrimination under the Congressional Accountability Act. Several Congressional agencies — such as the Library of Congress — are exempted from parts of the CAA and have their own employee complaint and resolution system. Approximately 30,000 people work for Congress and its related agencies. The Office of Compliance provides confidential counseling to employees — including House and Senate staffers, the office of the Architect of the Capitol and the Capitol Police — and are mandated by the CAA to provide statistical data to Congress annually. The full report on the State of the Congressional Workplace is available at compliance.gov. Staffers seeking more information or wishing to report a complaint can contact the Office of Compliance at (202) 724-9250 or visit the website. All inquiries are strictly confidential. Want more Hill Navigator? Did you know you can get Hill Navigator delivered to your inbox? Go to the right hand sidebar and sign up under "SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL." Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.