The Capitol Police union says “all options are on the table” when it comes to seeking remedy for several black officers who are claiming mistreatment under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Such remedies could include filing a formal complaint with the Office of Compliance or requesting that the Congressional Black Caucus intervene.
“The FMLA cases we’re dealing with appear to affect a certain group of individuals within the Capitol Police,” said Chris Ferguson, second vice chairman of the Capitol Police Labor Committee.
A pattern has emerged, he said, regarding how black officers are treated when they request paid leave under the FMLA, the law protecting employees who need to take time off to attend to personal or family-related matters.
Specifically, the officers say they have been denied leave arbitrarily or have been told their paperwork has gone missing or been lost. In many cases, these black officers say similar requests for time off by their white counterparts are processed and approved without incident.
Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider declined to comment.
Short of an internal resolution, filing a complaint with the Office of Compliance would set in motion the first stages of a lawsuit.
“We’re hoping it can be handled internally and we can stop the department from practicing this type of discrimination,” Ferguson said.
Capitol Police Labor Committee Chairman Jim Konczos said the union has also put in a request for a meeting with the CBC, whose members could serve as Congressional allies.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), chairman of the CBC, told Roll Call he was not aware of the request but that he would be open to taking a meeting. He added that he spoke with a group of black officers a year ago to discuss “what they perceived to be a culture that worked against them.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.