The lack of progress on Capitol Hill often leaves Americans wondering what exactly their elected representatives are doing all day. It seems that an increasing number of our politicians spend their time harassing (and discriminating against) Congressional staff. According to a study released on Thursday, harassment and discrimination claims on Capitol Hill have doubled in the past five years. Even more troubling, taxpayers are footing the bill to settle these disputes. As Politico reports:
A new report…says 168 claims were made in fiscal 2010 alleging discrimination and harassment – compared to 87 claims reported in fiscal 2006. Fifty-seven of the claims made last year were based on race, while 41 claims involved age, 34 involved gender and 28 involved disabilities, according to the report from the congressional Office of Compliance.
The harassment and discrimination claims stem from 105 cases filed with the Office of Compliance last year, meaning one person could make more than one claim. The vast majority of cases involve the large workforce under Architect of the Capitol and Capitol Police, with about a fifth of the cases coming from House and Senate offices.
While the total number of complaints has risen, the payouts in settlements fluctuate year to year.
In fiscal 2010, taxpayers paid $246,271 to settle nine matters brought to the OOC over the years. That’s a big drop from the previous year, where $831,360 was spent to settle 13 claims. The cash awards settled matters of discrimination and harassment, as well as retaliation claims and disputes over contracts and pay. Since fiscal 1997, taxpayers have footed the bill for more than $13.2 million in cases resolved by the OOC.
Claims of retaliation and intimidation have also grown in the congressional workplace – from 46 claims in fiscal 2006 to 69 in fiscal 2010.