Are you the victim of workplace discrimination? Have you been subjected to harassment or a hostile work environment? Has your employer subjected you to retaliation for speaking up against wrongdoing? Do you have a medical condition or physical/mental impairment, but your employer has denied you appropriate accommodations to enable you to perform your job successfully? If so, Hoyer Law Group can help!
We represent employees of all kinds – employees of private companies and federal employees – regarding employment matters of all kinds. Fortunately/unfortunately, there are a plethora of laws governing this area of the law, so trying to understand the different nuances therein can sometimes get very confusing. These laws differ significantly when comparing employees of private companies to those of the federal government. Accordingly, depending on who you work for, you should be careful of who you entrust to help you through your employment matters. For example, there are very few law firms with the experience and expertise to represent the unique employment needs of federal employees. Hoyer Law Group is one of those select few law firms.
We are more than happy to conduct a consultation with you to discuss the strengths of your employment case. However, short of that, your rights as a federal employee can be summarized as follows:
The Federal Laws
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 marked a significant landmark in civil rights and labor law in the United States. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act addresses employment discrimination and establishes the notion of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO). Specifically, Title VII makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees, or applicants for employment, on the bases of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. Title VII also makes it illegal to retaliate against employees for reporting discrimination or for participating in another employee’s discrimination complaint. Subsequently, Title VII has been improved upon by the passage of supplemental legislation making it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants for employment on the bases of age and disability. This supplemental legislation was enacted by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehab Act), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). In more recent years, Congress and the courts expanded the scope of protected classes also to include pregnancy, sexual orientation, parental status, marital status, and political affiliation. The Genetics Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) also makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees, or applicants for employment, based on their genetic information/genetic history.
What does the EEOC do for you as a Federal Employee?
The U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces these federal acts prohibiting employment discrimination among federal employees. If you work for a federal agency and your employer discriminated against you, you have several options on how to proceed. Your first option is to file an EEO complaint with the agency for whom you work. In doing so, you would need to contact your EEO office within 45 days of the adverse employment action, which you allege was discriminatory. The adverse employment action could include any number of things, including, but not limited to:
- disciplinary action
- formal counseling
- letter of reprimand
- unfavorable performance appraisal
- denied leave
- denied Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- denied request for detail/transfer/reassignment
- denied training opportunities
- denied promotion
- non-selection/referral to a job vacancy
- countless other actions you might consider adversely imposed based on a discriminatory motive
Once you engage the involvement of the EEO office, you will have an opportunity to participate in counseling with an EEO Counselor, and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), in which a mediator will assist you in attempting to resolve the matter at issue. If ADR is unsuccessful, you can then file a formal EEO complaint. If accepted, in part or in whole, for investigation, an investigator will be assigned to investigate your claim. Following a thorough investigation, the EEO will generate a report of the investigation, at which time you will have an opportunity to appear before an administrative judge at a hearing if you wish to proceed further. From that point forward, you can then appeal your case through the appropriate federal district court.
Alternatives for Federal Employees
Of course, depending on the specifics of your complaint, there are numerous alternatives to the EEO process. You may want to file a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) if you allege a prohibited personnel practice, or make a disclosure alleging agency wrongdoing. You may want to file a complaint with the Office of Inspector General (OIG) if you wish to report fraud, waste, abuse, misconduct, or gross mismanagement. You may want to file a complaint with the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP) if you wish to allege agency misconduct or retaliation for whistleblower disclosures. You may want to file a complaint with the Department of Labor under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) of 1994 if you allege discrimination due to past, present or upcoming military service. You may want to file with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) for matters relating to termination or suspension of 14 days or longer. Lastly, you may want to file your claim in the state or federal district court having proper jurisdiction over your matter.
Again, depending on the facts and circumstances of your particular situation, any one of these options, or a combination therein, may apply – but you’ll want to have attorneys with the right experience and expertise in the field of federal employment law to guide and direct you in the direction best for you and your situation.