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Workplace discrimination complaints grow on Capitol Hill

Legislative branch federal employees filed an increased number of workplace discrimination complaints last year, according to an annual report released this week by the federal Office of Compliance.

Legislative branch federal employees filed an increased number of workplace discrimination complaints last year, according to an annual report released this week by the federal Office of Compliance.

The report —State of the Congressional Workplace — says that in fiscal year 2011, there were 142 allegations of workplace rights violations initiated in the form of what the OOC calls “requests for counseling,” up from 105 in FY 2010.

Fully 89 of the FY 2012 complaints were filed by employees of the United States Capitol Police, 27 by those working in the Office of the Architect of the Capitol, one by an employee of the Congressional Budget Office—with the remaining 25 complaints filed by those working for lawmakers or committee offices.

According to the report, the most common allegations were “related to discrimination and harassment based on a protected trait such as sex, race, age, and/or disability under Section 201” under the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, the law that governs the OOC and such complaints. Retaliation for whistleblowing or related matters was the second most common complaint.

The OOC report notes that complaints have increased over the past five years, and that most are resolved confidentially within a system set up by the office.

The Office of Compliance applies certain executive branch and private sector workplace rights standards to the approximately 30,000 legislative branch federal employees.

Employees who have suffered discrimination, harassment and other abuses of their workplace rights must pursue their complaints through a process managed by the OOC.

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