Federal employees have a right to work in an environment free from discrimination and unlawful harassment. If you are a federal government employee and have experienced discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, you may have a legal claim against your employer. This type of claim will depend on the branch of government that employs you, the applicable federal law, and the type of discrimination. Generally, federal government employees have the same legal protections against unlawful discrimination in the workplace as private-sector employees.
Examples of Unlawful Discrimination of Federal Employees
If a federal agency employed you, and you have faced discrimination or harassment on any of the following grounds, you may have a right to file a complaint:
- Discrimination based on your religion, color, race (including pregnancy and gender identity), National origin, disability, and age (40 or older)
- Denial of a reasonable workplace accommodation that you need due to a disability or your religious beliefs
- Retaliation because you notified your employer about discrimination or helped another employee’s discrimination investigation or lawsuit
Bringing a Federal Anti-Discrimination Claim
If you are an employee in the Cincinnati area and face discrimination, you must follow a specific process to file your claim. The first step should be discussing your case with an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you understand whether you have a valid claim and help you file your claim before the deadline.
You must go through the administrative process to resolve your claim by reporting discrimination to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is the administrative agency responsible for processing employment discrimination cases. You must contact an EEO counselor at the federal Agency where you are employed. This step is known as “initiating the EEO process.”
Do I Need an Attorney?
Filing a discrimination, harassment, or retaliation claim as a federal employee is complicated. You will need to go through the EEOC, an administrative agency, before bringing your claim to federal court. There are multiple strict deadlines for filing a claim and appealing decisions, and an attorney can help you ensure you meet all your deadlines. An attorney can also help you write an affidavit that clearly states your case and gather supporting information that can help you prove that discrimination or retaliation occurred.
HKM Employment Attorneys can help you evaluate the facts of your case under current federal statutes and court decisions to help you understand the pros and cons of your case and how much your case may be worth. Pursuing compensation in a federal anti-discrimination claim is complex, and our attorneys have an in-depth knowledge of the procedures and process. We use this knowledge to benefit our clients and provide effective legal counsel so they can make informed decisions about their cases.
Deadlines for Federal Anti-Discrimination Claims
There are strict deadlines for bringing anti-discrimination or retaliation claims against Federal employers. Employees must start the EEO process within 45 days of the last retaliatory or discriminatory incident. When an employee fails to meet the 45-day deadline, they may lose the right to pursue a claim. There are a few exceptions to the rule, such as the following:
- You were not notified of the time limits and were not aware of them
- You did not and reasonably should not have known that the discriminatory conduct occurred, or
- You were prevented by circumstances be under control from contacting the counselor within the 45-day period
The EEO Counseling Period
The next step is the EEO counseling process which generally lasts 30 days. You will need to fill out pre-complaint paperwork. Suppose you cannot gain resolution through the counseling stage, and the issue needs to be resolved through alternative dispute resolution within 90 days of the start of your claim. In that case, you will be given a Notice of Final Interview to file a formal complaint. Employees only have 15 days from receiving the Notice to File a formal complaint. The complaint is assigned a statement from the employee or your attorney that states the basis of discrimination and provides details about the incidents or issues that show retaliation or discrimination.
Investigation of the Complaint
After an employee files a former complaint, the agency may issue an acceptance letter, a partial acceptance dismissal letter, or a dismissal letter. The outcome stated in the letter will show whether they have accepted or denied all or part of your claims. You have the right to write a letter to the agency explaining why they incorrectly determined your case. the issues can be raised again in front of an EEOC Administrative Judge in the case of a partial acceptance dismissal. In the case of complete dismissal, the issues can be raised again before the EEOC Office of Federal Operations.
Can I File a Lawsuit if I Do Not Agree with the EEOC’s Resolution of My Claim?
Yes, an employee can file a federal lawsuit when one or more of the following conditions are present:
- 180 days have passed since filing a formal EEO complaint, and the EEO investigation has not been completed
- You received a report of Investigation on your EEO complaint, and you chose to file a lawsuit rather than request a final agency decision or hearing
- An EEOC administrative judge ruled in your favor, but the agency rejected the decision
- You file an appeal of the final agency decision to the EEOC or Office of Federal Operations, and they rule against you
If you decide to pursue a federal court lawsuit, your case will essentially start over, regardless of the decisions made by the EEOC administrative judge or the agency. You can conduct a thorough discovery process and prove your case in a jury trial.
Schedule a Case Evaluation With a Skilled Federal Employment Attorney
If you are a federal employee or contractor, HKM Employment Attorneys are here to help. We provide Cincinnati area clients with skilled legal representation in a wide range of employment matters, including federal employment discrimination cases. Contact HKM Employment Attorneys to schedule an initial case evaluation.