Please call your U.S. Representative and ask them to support H.R. 8466, The Chai Suthammanont Healthy Federal Workplaces Act of 2022 (formerly H.R. 978, The Chai Suthammanont Remembrance Act of 2021).
H.R. 8466 requires the head of each Federal agency to establish a plan relating to the safety of Federal employees and contractors physically present at certain worksites during a nationwide public health emergency declared for an infectious disease. The bill was reintroduced by Representative Gerry Connolly (VA-11) and is co-sponsored by Government Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Maloney (NY-12) and Rep. Brown (OH-11). Click here to see list of co-sponsors.
The bill is named in honor of Chai Suthammanont (soo-tam-man-aunt) who was a foodservice worker in the Child Development Center (Center) at the Marine Corp Base at Quantico. Despite repeatedly expressing concern about reporting to work and asking his supervisor, Cathy English, what he needed to do to stay home, Chai was never informed about the DOD’s COVID-19-related leave policies. Tragically, he contracted COVID-19 from a coughing co-worker who refused to wear a mask and who was not sent home, despite her symptoms. The Center did not provide PPE, the supervisor doubled the kitchen staff (from three to six) — even though the number of children at the Center went from about 450 to 50, and there was no clear communication about how Chai, who was 68, male, and Asian, could request leave.
Chai contracted COVID-19 from his co-worker on April 22. On April 27, he received a text message from his supervisor, Cathy English, after he got home from work, informing him that he needed to self-quarantine. He developed a high fever on April 28 and breathing problems on May 4. He died on May 26, after being on a ventilator for 13 days. He left behind a devastated wife, his four sons, four grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, his own father who is in his late 90s, neighbors, colleagues, and friends.
Find your Representative here and call to ask them to support this bill so that other federal workers, contractors, and subcontractors do not suffer the same, unnecessary death as Chai.
H.R. 8466 addresses every challenge Chai encountered to being kept safe while at work. Despite asking several times, Chai was never told what the DoD COVID-19 leave policy was. He was told to get a doctor’s note (for what remains unclear). He was not provided the same leave letter as other workers, leading him to believe he was in a different category than his co-workers. There was no information provided on his agency’s work site.
Had the provisions of H.R. 8466 been in effect, Chai could have gone to the Center’s website and read what the leave policy was: workers 65 and over were to contact their supervisor and “STAY HOME!” Chai was never made aware of this policy and he did not have ready access to it.
The Chai Suthammanont Healthy Federal Workplaces Act of 2022
H.R. 8466 would require Federal agencies to:
(2) make such plan available to the public by including a prominent link to such plan on the home page of the website of the agency;
(4) communicate such plan to each covered individual in such a manner as to ensure that each such covered individual acknowledges receipt and understanding of the plan.
(D) A description of any requirements that members of the public are required to meet in order to enter a facility in which covered worksites are located.
(E) A description of any alternative option to being physically present at a covered worksite that is available for employees of the agency who have a high risk of contracting a covered condition, as determined by the Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or live in a household with individuals who have a high risk of contracting a covered condition.
(F) The hotline website and hotline telephone number of the Inspector General of the agency for covered individuals to report to the Inspector General any instance in which the agency is not implementing the plan required by this section.
(G) The hotline website and hotline telephone number of the Office of Special Counsel to report a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety or whistleblower retaliation.
(H) Publication Of Plan.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall make available to the public on a single web page of the Office—
Communication Of Plan To New Employees, Contractors, And Subcontractors.—Beginning on the date that is 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the head of an agency shall communicate the plan required by subsection (a), in the manner described under such subsection, to—
(3) any individual or entity that enters into a subcontract at any tier of a contract with the agency after such date, not later than 30 days after the subcontract is entered into.
Did you know:
- The federal government does not track COVID-19 infections or deaths of federal employees and federal agencies are not required to report or disclose how many of their employees have been infected or have died within the agency.
- The states with the most federal employees are: California (172,553), Virginia (155,682), Maryland (149,673), Texas (148,453), Florida (99,212), Georgia (80,042), New York (68,579), Pennsylvania (68,300), Washington (60,250), and Ohio (54,483).
- The federal government employs more contractors and subcontractors than government employees. As of 2017, the federal government employed approximately 4.1 million contractors compared to 2.1 million civilian workers (according to OPM).
- There are approximately 18 million veterans in the U.S., millions of whom access VA hospitals and facilities – which are federal facilities. H.R. 8466 would make veterans aware of the safety precautions being taken at all VA locations.
- The Social Security Administration (SSA) operates approximately 1,230 field offices that serve our most vulnerable citizens. Senior citizens apply for social security benefits; Medicare beneficiaries with limited income and resources apply for extra help with the cost of their prescription drugs; the disabled, including the blind, and widows and children of deceased workers apply for supplemental security income (SSI). Or, people just need to apply for or replace a social security card. Millions of Americans visit SSA Field Offices and Resident Stations each year – all of them federal facilities. H.R. 978 would make these locations safer for workers and for the millions of Americans who visit them.
- Sept. 20, 2022: Committee passage of the Chai Suthammanont Health Federal Workplaces Act of 2022. (Video of Committee Markup)
- Feb. 11, 2021: Rep. Connolly Reintroduces the Chai Suthammanont Remembrance Act
- Sept. 30, 2020: Senator Mark R. Warner and Senator Chris Van Hollen introduce the bill in the Senate
- Sept. 30, 2020: Rep. Connolly on the passage of H.R. 7430
- June 25, 2020: House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing
- June 15, 2020: Rep. Connolly requests that the Department of Defense IG investigate Chai’s death.
- Christina Suthammanont’s Statement for the Record