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On Capitol Hill, high number of employee complaints

There are certain lines of work where people can expect to encounter a fast pace, pressure and a lot of stress. Medicine is one of these areas, as is law enforcement and military service, for example. Another field that can be a confrontational place to work is politics and a recent news report suggests that Capitol Hill is becoming a more and more hostile work environment.

In fact, last year alone staff members in 23 House offices and two Senate offices filed complaints about hostile work environment issues in Washington, D.C. A hostile work environment does not simply refer to a stressful office; this means harassment, intimidation or retaliation exists in the workplace. These complaints filed in Congress included some sexual harassment claims.

In one case, a disabled veteran who worked in the Capitol on the Wounded Warrior Project resigned and listed in her letter of resignation that she would rather be back in Afghanistan than continue working there.

All told, employees at the Capitol filed a total of 196 complaints against employers in 2011, compared with 168 the year earlier.

Filing a complaint against an employer is a good way to hold the organization accountable and see that it corrects its ways, as well as obtain compensation for any damages.

When an employee successfully sues an employer for sexual harassment or another employment law violation in the Capitol, the U.S. Treasury pays out the damages rather than the actual offender, according to the Washington Times. However, the names of the offenders are recorded and they hopefully not only cease the behavior but are held responsible in an appropriate way.

Those who experience hostile work environments in any field do have the right to file a complaint in an attempt to remedy the situation and recoup damages. Workers who file such complaints often benefit from legal counsel.

Source: Washington Times, "Report: Hostile work environment complaints up on Capitol Hill," Susan Crabtree, Oct. 18, 2012.

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