Heard on the Hill

What to Do if Your Boss Is Abusive

Rep. Tim Murphy reportedly expressed ‘rage, criticisms or insults’ toward his staff

Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Murphy’s chief of staff reportedly wrote a memo raising concerns over the congressman’s behavior toward his staff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Tim Murphy made headlines this week when he announced he would be resigning Oct. 21 following revelations that the anti-abortion champion allegedly urged his mistress to have an abortion.

Amid the stories of the Pennsylvania Republican’s affair and his upcoming resignation were accounts of his being abusive to members of his staff.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obtained a June 8 memo written by Murphy’s chief of staff, Susan Mosychuk, to the congressman. She raised concerns about “sustained inappropriate behavior and engagement” by Murphy toward his staff. She said Murphy had “an inability to communicate without expressions of rage, criticisms or insults.”

[Rep. Tim Murphy Admits to Affair With ‘Personal Friend’]

Mosychuk pointed out that turnover in the office had been 100 percent one year and more than 100 staffers had left since she started in 2003. She also threatened to take the issue to the “next level of review” outside the office.

What is the next level? The Office of Compliance.

The office was “established by Congress as an independent and non-partisan office and a place for employees to learn more about their workplace rights in a neutral setting,” according to Paula Sumberg, its deputy executive director.

The OOC handles calls and visits from any of the 30,000 legislative branch employees dealing with workplace issues. The office said because all discussions are confidential, it could not disclose the number of such contacts it handles each year.

[Report: Rep. Tim Murphy Urged Abortion in Affair]

“Through our dispute resolution program we process claims arising under the 13 laws of the Congressional Accountability Act. But, these laws do not necessarily cover all issues of basic civility and professionalism at work,” Sumberg said in an email.

If an employee feels like they have been harassed, the office encourages people to come to them, whether the Congressional Accountability Act, or CAA, has been violated or not.

“We encourage employees to call our office to speak to a counselor on a workplace issue so it does not escalate into a violation of the CAA or a more stressful situation for them,” Sumberg said. “If a situation does not present a violation of the CAA, we may recommend an employee call their Employee Assistance Program to speak with someone about their workplace situation in a confidential setting.”

She added, “If there is an allegation of physical harm, we may recommend that they report the behavior to security professionals.”

The Congressional Accountability Act, first enacted in 1995, applies workplace protection laws to Congress and its Legislative Branch agencies.

Correction 2:15 p.m. | An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Murphy’s chief of staff, Susan Mosychuk.

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