Report shows sharp rise in discrimination harassment claims on Capitol Hill

The number of discrimination and harassment claims filed by congressional workers has tripled since 2006, according to a newly released report.

The Office of Compliance (OOC) just released a 74-page study probing harassment and discrimination claims in congressional offices. The report also found Capitol Hill can be a challenging place to navigate if you're disabled.

The report showed the number of total complaints - which covered race and sex discrimination, as well as harassment -- jumped from 64 in 2006 to 196 in fiscal 2011.

The report also evaluated things like curb cuts and sidewalks to determine how those with physical disabilities are able to get around.

The report catalogued 154 specific locations of uneven sidewalks and ramps around the House office buildings which could hinder those who use wheelchairs. The OOC termed more than half to be "major inconveniences." It detailed congressional locations where dimpled ramps were worn which could present hazards to the blind or those who use canes. The study detailed locations where landings, gutters and ramps were too steep. That could force wheelchairs to tip.

The OOC also reviewed bathrooms, uncovering some which had bad door handles or insufficient soap dispensers. Congress is exempt from its own laws and didn't have to adhere to the same employment and workplace safety statutes which apply in the private sector. The OOC didn't exist until the mid-1990s and serves as a type of "human resources" department dealing with commonplace workplace issues.