DearColleague.us

Letter

Eleanor Holmes Norton

From the office of:

Eleanor Holmes Norton

 

From: The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton
Sent By:  meagan.hatcher-mays@mail.house.gov
Bill: H.R. 3528
Date: 5/31/2016

Cosponsor H.R. 3528, the Congress Leads by Example Act

Dear Colleague:

Please cosponsor H.R. 3528, the Congress Leads by Example Act, a bill that would subject Congress and the rest of the legislative branch to the federal whistleblower and anti-discrimination laws that now protect employees in the private sector and the executive branch.  Congress should abide by the laws it imposes on the American people, American businesses, and others.  Congress made that promise when it passed the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 (CAA).

The CAA was an important first step in making the legislative branch accountable for its employment practices, but it did not finish the job.  The CAA did bring the legislative branch under 13 major civil rights, labor and workplace safety and health laws, but it exempted the legislative branch from important notice and training provisions, and altogether omitted important substantive and administrative protections.

But in its annual report for fiscal year 2014, the Office of Compliance identified additional provisions of federal workplace laws and standards that should be applicable to the legislative branch.  OOC’s recommendations include laws that grant the OOC General Counsel subpoena power, provide whistleblowers with protection from retaliation, and require the maintenance of employment records.  The OOC report presents the successes and shortcomings of the CAA by tracking the trends in legislative branch employee complaints and workplace safety hazards in fiscal year 2014.  This bill takes into account the OOC report, and seeks to both apply the standard of fairness to employees in the legislative branch that Congress requires for other employees and to provide a safer work environment for Congress, Capitol Hill employees, and visitors by bringing the legislative branch in line with the legal requirements of private sector employers and the executive branch.

Legislative branch employees have no way to report misuse of federal funds and other violations without fear of retaliation.  This bill provides general whistleblower protections, and makes applicable additional OSHA provisions to the legislative branch, including providing subpoena authority to OOC to conduct inspections and investigations into OSHA violations, and requiring the posting of notices in workplaces detailing employee rights to a safe workplace under OSHA.

This bill also requires legislative branch employers to provide their employees with notice of their rights and remedies under the CAA anti-discrimination provisions through the placement of signage in offices highlighting relevant anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.  Additionally, this bill mandates legislative branch offices to provide training to employees about their CAA rights and remedies,
which will empower legislative branch employees with full knowledge of their rights.

By passing this bill, Congress will help restore the trust of the public in this institution by redoubling our efforts to exercise leadership by example.  I urge bipartisan support for this important measure.  If you would like to become a cosponsor or have any questions, please contact Meagan Hatcher-Mays in my office at X5-8050 or meagan.hatcher-mays@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

Eleanor Holmes Norton