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OFFICE OF COMPLIANCE SECTION 301(H) REPORT TO CONGRESS

January 23, 1996 -- December 31, 1996

INTRODUCTION

The Congressional Accountability Act (CAA) generally applies provisions of eleven federal labor and employment laws to over 20,000 covered congressional employees and employing offices. The CAA establishes the Office of Compliance (Office), an independent agency in the legislative branch of government, to administer and enforce the CAA and provide a process for speedy, confidential resolution of workplace disputes. Section 301( h) of the CAA requires that the Office of Compliance:

"... compile and publish statistics on the use of the Office by covered employees, including the number and type of contacts made with the Office, on the reason for such contacts, on the number of covered employees who initiated proceedings with the Office under this Act and the result of such proceedings, and on the number of covered employees who filed a complaint, the basis for the complaint, and the action taken on the complaint."

This first report provides the information for the period from January 23, 1996 through December 31, 1996. Future reports will be issued soon after the end of each calendar year, beginning in January 1998. The report begins with a summary of the authority and responsibilities of the Office of Compliance.

OFFICE OF COMPLIANCE AUTHORITY & RESPONSIBILITIES

The CAA establishes the Office of Compliance with a Board of five members, who serve on a part-time basis, and four statutory appointees: the Executive Director, Deputy Executive Director for the Senate, Deputy Executive Director for the House, and the General Counsel. The Office is charged with providing alternative dispute resolution procedures, as well as adjudicative hearings and appeals, for covered legislative branch employees and education and information on the CAA to members of Congress, other employing offices, and employees of the legislative branch. The Board is required to adopt substantive regulations for implementation of certain provisions of the CAA. The Executive Director is required to adopt rules governing the procedures of the Office. The Office of the General Counsel enforces the provisions of sections 210 and 215, relating to health and safety and public access requirements, including investigation and prosecution of claims under these sections, and periodic inspections to ensure compliance. Additionally, the General Counsel investigates and prosecutes unfair labor practices under section 220 of the CAA.

The CAA applies the rights and protections of provisions of the following eleven labor and employment statutes to covered employees within the legislative branch: title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, chapter 43 of title 38 of the U. S. Code (relating to veterans' employment and reemployment), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 relating to public services and accommodations, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and chapter 71 of title 5 of the U. S. Code (relating to federal service labor-management relations).

On January 23, 1996, key provisions of the law took effect covering the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Capitol Guide Service, the Capitol Police, the Congressional Budget Office, the Office of the Architect of the Capitol, the Office of the Attending Physician, the Office of Compliance, and their employees. On October 1, 1996, section 220, the labor management section of the CAA, took effect, as did the OSHA and ADA sections on January 1, 1997.

USE OF THE OFFICE OF COMPLIANCE

Section 301( h) of the Congressional Accountability Act mandates that the Office of Compliance:

"... compile and publish statistics on the use of the Office by covered employees, including the number and type of contacts made with the Office, on the reason for such contacts, on the number of covered employees who initiated proceedings with the Office under this Act and the result of such proceedings, and on the number of covered employees who filed a complaint, the basis for the complaint, and the action taken on the complaint."

The following statistics provide this data on the use of the Office by covered employees from January 23, 1996, when the CAA generally took effect, to December 31, 1996. (Given the statutory time frames, proceedings initiated in 1996 may still be in the dispute resolution process as of December 31, 1996.)

Number and Types of Contacts Received: 1677

Employees and employing offices may, at any time, seek informal advice and information on the procedures of the Office and the rights, protections, and responsibilities afforded under the CAA. The Office responds to all inquiries on a confidential basis.

1677 requests for information from covered employees, employing offices, the public unions, and the press were made by phone and in person from January 23,1996 to December 31, 1996. Contacts were made by:

Employees

652

Employing offices

603

Public

107

Unions

36

Press

44

Recorded Information line

235

Total requests for information

1677

Reasons for Employee Contacts

652 covered employees contacted the Office asking questions under the following sections:1

Section

Description

Contacts

201

Rights and protections under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

112

202

Rights and protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

26

203

Rights and protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938

155

204

Rights and protections under the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988

0

205

Rights and protections under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act

73

206

Rights and protections relating to veterans' employment and reemployment

3

207

Prohibition of intimidation or reprisal

8

210

Rights and protections under the Americans with DisabilitiesAct of 1990 relating to public services and accommodations; procedures for remedy of violations

1

215

Rights and protections under the ccupational Safety and Health Act of 1970; procedures for remedy of violations

4

220

Application of chapter 71 of title 5, United States Code, relating to federal service labor-management relations

13

230

Study and recommendations regarding General Accounting Office, Government Printing Office, and Library of Congress

9

CAA

Questions regarding the general application of the CAA

128

1 Aggregate numbers will not necessarily match totals as a single contact may involve more than one section or subsection of the CAA, and/ or more than one issue or alleged violation.

Additionally, the office received 150 questions from employees on matters which were not cognizable under the CAA.

The 652 employee contacts were for information regarding:

Assignments

4

Belo contracts

14

Benefits

1

Compensatory time off

9

Compensation

29

Demotion

8

Discipline

2

Equal pay

1

Evaluation

2

Exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act

42

General questions regarding statutory requirements

102

Harassment

14

Hiring

3

Hours of work

28

Inspections

1

Interns

1

Leave

14

Leave eligibility

4

Office operations

1

Overtime pay

32

Promotion

12

Reasonable accommodations

12

Record keeping

4

Recruitment

1

Reinstatement

6

Rulemaking

3

Scheduling

34

Severance

1

Termination

119

Terms and conditions of employment

14

Time-off

1

Requests for written materials

58

Number of Proceedings Initiated by Covered Employees: 95

Pursuant to title IV of the CAA, the Office of Compliance provides dispute resolution in the form of counseling and mediation. A proceeding under the CAA is initiated by a request for counseling alleging a violation of the CAA.

95 employees from the following offices filed requests for counseling:

The Architect of the Capitol

34

Capitol Guide Service

6

Capitol Police

2

Congressional Budget Office

1

House of Representatives (non-member or
committee offices)

39

House of Representatives (member offices)

7

Senate Committee

1

Senate (non-Senator offices)

2

Senator

3

Total employee counseling requests

95

These 95 requests for counseling alleged violations under the following sections of the Congressional Accountability Act:2

Section

Description

Cases

201

Rights and protections under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

82

202

Rights and protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

8

203

Rights and protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938

12

205

Rights and protections under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act

35

207

Prohibition of intimidation or reprisal

22

2 See note l, page 4.

Workplace issues raised by the 95 employees requesting counseling fell into the following categories:3

Assignments

7

Compensatory time off

1

Compensation

24

Discipline

13

Fair Labor Standards Act exemptions

2

Harassment

20

Hiring

4

Hours of work

5

Leave

2

Overtime pay

3

Promotion 11

11

Reasonable accommodation 1

1

Reassignment 1

1

Reinstatement 1

1

Termination 47

47

Terms and conditions of employment 17

17

3 See note l, page 4 # Leave 2

Results of the Proceedings

Counseling

Of the ninety-five (95) counseling requests received between Jan. 23 and Dec. 31, 1996:

Mediation

Of the forty (40) mediation requests received between Jan. 23 and Dec. 31, 1996:

Complaints and Hearings

If the dispute remains unresolved after counseling and mediation, an employee may elect to file a civil action in the district courts of the United States or to file a complaint with the Office. If a complaint is filed with the Office, a Hearing Officer is appointed to hear the case and issue a decision.

Of the thirteen (13) complaints filed after mediation (between Jan. 23 and Dec. 31, 1996):

Of the five (5) hearings:

Basis of Complaints

The thirteen (13) complaints filed involved the following issues:

Action Taken on Complaints

Any party aggrieved by a Hearing Officer's decision may file a petition for review of the decision by the Board of Directors of the Office.

As of December 31, 1996, of the four (4) Hearing Officer decisions issued:

No Board decisions were issued in 1996; to our knowledge, no civil actions were filed in Federal Court in 1996 by covered employees.

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