Parliament of Hypocrites

Those not deep in the weeds of policy and process may be unaware of this, but let this post bring your unawareness to an end. Just because Congress legislates rules that the rest of us have to live by does not mean that Congress itself has to live by those rules.

As Theodoric (what a great name!) Meyer details:

  • Legislative branch whistleblowers do not get the same legal protections that other whistleblowers get.

  • OSHA has no presence in Congress.
  • Congress is exempt from rules that require private sector workplaces to keep personnel records.
  • Congressional employees who file reports regarding health and safety hazards are legally vulnerable to retaliation in ways that private sector employees are not.
  • Workers’ rights notices do not have to be posted in congressional workplaces (like lunchrooms).
  • Congress does not have to administer anti-discrimination or anti-retaliation training to its employers.
  • Congress is exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.

To be sure, there are some laws that apply to Congress. But before you exclaim “thank God!”, read this:

In addition to sparing itself from complying with measures it has made mandatory for others, Congress is violating some of the laws that do apply to it, according to a recent report from the Office of Compliance. (The pint-sized agency, created by Congress in 1995, is responsible for enforcing a number of workplace-rights laws in the legislative branch.) The sidewalks surrounding the three House office buildings, the report noted, don’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Neither do the restrooms in the House and Senate office buildings and the Library of Congress’ James Madison Building.

And of course, one can’t help but wonder how many similar examples of hypocrisy one finds in your run-of-the-mill state legislatures, city councils, and governmental bureaucracies.