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Cummings Continues Efforts to Strengthen Equal Employment Opportunity

Jan 12, 2016
Press Release

Cummings Continues Efforts to Strengthen Equal Employment Opportunity

 

Washington, DC (Jan. 12, 2016)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, requesting documents and information regarding the Department’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) program.

In today’s letter, Cummings expressed concern that it appears the Department failed to file its yearly Management Directive 715 (MD-715) reports from 2011 to 2013.  It also appears that the Department’s FY 2014 MD-715 may be incomplete. Cummings sought information regarding the nearly 30 compliance indicators that the Department’s EEO program has not met.

“The effectiveness and efficiency of each agency’s Equal Employment Opportunity program is essential to ensuring that our federal employees are protected from discrimination in the workplace,” said Cummings. “The information I am requesting will help Congress evaluate the Department’s compliance and strengthen its management of this process.”

Cummings cited a May 18, 2015, letter from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) reporting that the Department’s Office of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights had “an unusually high number of complaints filed against its own leadership” and “has been seriously mismanaged, thereby compromising the civil rights of USDA employees.” OSC recommended:

“Given the seriousness of these concerns, the corrective actions appear to only partially resolve the identified wrongdoing.  While they adequately address the management and conduct of OASCR going forward, the proposed actions do not provide sufficient redress for affected individuals.  The agency should consider reviewing cases to determine whether harm resulted from delays and how affected individuals should be made whole.”

Cummings requested that the Department provide detailed information about each complaint, including the bases of the complaint, an overview of the resolution, and a timeline for implementing a plan to rectify complaints that were not acted on within the legally mandated period.

Cummings is one of the staunchest defenders of federal employees.  Last year, the House passed—by a vote of 403 to 0—H.R. 1557, the Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2015—a bipartisan bill Rep. Cummings introduced to strengthen employee protections for federal workers.

In addition, yesterday the House passed H.R. 3231, the Federal Intern Protection Act, which would make it illegal to discriminate against or sexually harass unpaid interns in the federal government.

Click here to read today’s letter. 

114th Congress