Section 201 of the Congressional Accountability Act (CAA), which applies Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to Congress, requires that all personnel actions– such as hiring, discharge, promotion, pay, or benefits – must be free from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The law forbids discrimination based on these characteristics even if other factors also motivate the action. Harassment based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin is prohibited as well.

The law forbids certain employment practices that, while they may appear neutral in practice, in fact, cause a “disparate impact” on an employee on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The practice may be lawful in certain circumstances only if the employing office proves that the practice is job-related for the position in question and is consistent with business necessity.

Section 201 of the CAA also prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and discrimination because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. In addition, the law requires that an employing office must reasonably accommodate an applicant or employee’s religious observances and practices so long as it does not create an undue hardship on the conduct of business.

Proving motivation depends on the facts of a particular case. For example, a covered employee must not only prove that he or she was treated differently from others in similar circumstances, but must also show that race, color, religion, sex, or national origin was a motivating factor in that treatment. Under certain circumstances, an employing office may need to prove that it took adverse personnel action against a covered employee for non-discriminatory reasons, and accurate records of employees’ job performance may be critical in such a case.

There are several exceptions to Section 201′s prohibition on discrimination. It should also be noted that, under the CAA, it is lawful for certain House of Representatives and Senate offices to consider party, place of residence, or political compatibility in making employment decisions.

For more information, please refer to the Congressional Accountability Act and the CAA Handbook.

 

Section 201 of the Congressional Accountability Act (CAA), which applies Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to Congress, provides protection against discrimination in all personnel actions of qualified individuals with a disability. The CAA also prohibits other kinds of discrimination against people with a disability.

Only certain inquiries about the physical abilities of a prospective employee are permissible before a job offer is made. For example, an applicant may be asked if he or she can perform the basic functions of a job, but not about the nature or existence of a disability. Likewise, an employing office may not condition a job offer on the results of a medical examination unless a medical examination is required for all entering employees.

An employing office is required to make a reasonable accommodation for the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified employee or applicant with a disability. Employing offices, however, must only accommodate a known physical or mental limitation of an otherwise qualified applicant or employee. If an employer can demonstrate that a reasonable accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the functioning of the office, an accommodation does not have to be provided.

Covered employees and applicants currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs are not protected. An alcoholic may be considered an individual with a disability and protected by law, but can still be held to the same performance standards as other employees.

For more information, please refer to the Congressional Accountability Act and the CAA Handbook.

 

Section 201 of the Congressional Accountability Act (CAA), which applies the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) to Congress, provides that all personnel actions affecting covered employees 40 years old or older shall be free from discrimination based on age. The CAA only protects individuals who are at least 40 years old against discrimination. Individuals younger than 40 are not protected.

The law generally forbids the use of age as a motivating factor in personnel actions, such as hiring, discharge, promotion, pay, or benefits. A covered employee over 40 may also assert that he or she is harassed because of age if certain conduct creates a hostile work environment or interferes with an individual’s work performance.

For more information, please refer to the Congressional Accountability Act and the CAA Handbook.