(WASHINGTON, D.C.)- "Unless a legislative firewall is designed to prevent antidiscrimination payment reimbursement out of salaries and expense accounts, agencies may be tempted to use those resources to make the payment this bill will require," Bobby L. Harnage, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), will state in his opening remarks before the House Judiciary Committee. The hearing to discuss H.R. 169, the "Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act" will take place:Wednesday, May 9, 2001
10 a.m., Room 2141
Rayburn House Office Building
"While we wholeheartedly support the thrust of this bill, AFGE is concerned about possible unintended consequences that could end up hurting the federal employees it is designed to protect," Harnage will add. He will recommend that Section 3 of the bill be amended so that those agencies required to make payments in connection with antidiscrimination and whistleblower protection proceedings are prohibited from taking the money from salaries and expense accounts. "If not, this bill which is designed to penalize the federal agency would, in fact, penalize the federal employees."
Harnage will also propose adding a sensitivity training section to the bill which would require managers who are disciplined for discrimination, retaliation, harassment or any other infractions covered by this bill to attend and participate. "Payment of fines is not enough to change behavior," Harnage will state. "We believe that education and awareness of what constitutes these infractions are important deterrents as well."
Wrapping up his statement, Harnage will recommend that the antidiscrimination measures in the bill be applied to private firms with federal contracts. "It is time for this government to stop subsidizing the discriminatory actions of the 'shadow' government and to prevent what cannot be done directly by federal agencies from being done indirectly by federal contractors," Harnage will conclude.