June 01, 2004
HRC Criticizes Office of Special Counsel’s Failure to Fully Protect Federal Employees from Discrimin
'Empty promises won't protect federal employees from discrimination,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign criticized the Office of Special Counsel for its failure to fully reinstate protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Following pressure from HRC, Federal GLOBE and several members of Congress, the agency issued a press release in April asserting that "t is the policy of this Administration that discrimination in the federal workforce on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited." However, the non-discrimination directives have not yet been restored on the agency's website and several OSC actions since April have sparked concern among federal employees.
"Empty promises won't protect federal employees from discrimination," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "If Scott Bloch and the OSC are truly dedicated to restoring these protections, they should make them clear to the federal workforce. Gag orders and hidden policies don't protect employees from discrimination."
The OSC - the federal agency responsible for investigating workplace discrimination - has reportedly ordered all discrimination complaints to be assigned to political appointees, instead of career employees. The agency has also issued a "gag" order preventing OSC staff from discussing its non-discrimination policy.
Reps. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. Barney Frank, D-Mass. George Miller, D-Calif. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. sent a letter to OSC Special Counsel Scott Bloch on June 1 about the lack of evidence that the OSC has genuinely reversed its policy of ignoring the rights of gay, lesbian and bisexual federal employees. The members of Congress requested a response from Mr. Bloch by close of business June 8, 2004.
"We look forward to hearing Mr. Bloch's response to why the policy isn't clear," added Jacques.
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.