Texas Representative Henry Cuellar has recently been accused of firing his acting chief of staff for being pregnant. If true, the firing would be a violation of federal law. The employee states that after working as staff in the House of Representatives for almost 14 years, she started working for Representative Cuellar. After disclosing her pregnancy, she was fired.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act states that a woman cannot be rejected for a job or promotion, forced to take leave, given lesser assignments, or fired because of the pregnancy. Although Capitol Hill employees are not protected by all federal statutes regarding employment, they are protected by the Congressional Accountability Act (CAA).
The CAA’s reporting process has been widely criticized, however. It requires mandatory counseling and a 30-day cooling off period. If neither of those rectify the situation, the aggrieved employee can request an administrative proceeding in front of a hearing officer or file a case in federal district court.
Representative Cuellar’s office stated: “[T]he office values its employees and conducts all personnel matters in compliance with the Congressional Accountability Act and applicable House Rules.”