Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed, by a vote of 403-0, a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to strengthen equal employment protections for federal workers. Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, as well as Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton, James F. Sensenbrenner, and Sheila Jackson Lee cosponsored the bill, the Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2015, H.R. 1557.
In fiscal year 2012, federal employees and applicants for employment filed nearly 16,000 complaints alleging they had been the victims of discrimination. Although the vast majority of these complaints were handled in a timely and fair manner, some federal agencies still have not met the standards of a model program set forth by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2015 would require each federal agency to ensure that the head of its Equal Employment Opportunity program reports directly to the agency head.
The Act would also expand the notifications that agencies are required to provide when discrimination is found to have occurred, and it would require agencies to track and report whether such findings resulted in any disciplinary action.
Finally, the Act would prohibit non-disclosure agreements that seek to prohibit or restrict a federal employee from disclosing to Congress, the Office of Special Counsel, or an Inspector General any information that relates to any violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or waste, fraud or abuse.