As a federal employee, you are probably used to dealing with the “alphabet soup” of government offices known by their initialisms and filling out the interminable paperwork that these offices require, but working for a federal agency has its advantages, as well. Besides the job stability, the retirement pensions, and the generous health insurance benefits, federal employees have recourse to a formal process of bringing discrimination complaints against their employers. This process often makes it possible to resolve the disputes before the employee must resort to litigation, which is time consuming and expensive. The law guarantees you protection from employment discrimination, whether you are a federal employee, a state employee, or a private sector employee. No matter your line of work, a Minneapolis employment lawyer can help you protect yourself from employment discrimination. If you are experiencing discrimination in the context of your federal job, contact the Minneapolis federal employees EEOC lawyer at HKM Attorneys LLP.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Federal Employees
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a government office tasked with preventing and remedying employment discrimination against federal employees. Employees of any federal sector entity should bring their complaints of discrimination in the workplace to the EEOC, preferably with the help of an employment discrimination lawyer. The following are some characteristics on the basis of which the law forbids federal sector employers to discriminate against employees:
- Sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation
- Race, skin color, national origin, or ethnic background
- Adherence or lack of adherence to an organized religion
- Pregnancy, having children, or the ability to have children
- Age, if the employee is 40 years old or older
- Disabilities of any kind
The EEOC is also the office where you bring complaints about your employer taking action against you because you requested reasonable accommodations for your disability. Likewise, it deals with complaints about retaliation by employers against employees who complained about discrimination or who assisted their co-workers in doing so.
How the EEOC Complaint Process Works
It always takes courage to speak up against employment discrimination, but in some ways, the process is easier for federal employees than it is for people who work for private companies. In the private sector, things can quickly escalate from employees complaining to human resources, getting fired on a flimsy pretense, and then threatening to sue, or even filing a lawsuit. The EEOC, by contrast, has several procedures in place to help employees and their employers resolve their disputes before reaching anything as stressful or as costly as litigation.
The following is a summary of the employment discrimination complaint process instituted by the EEOC:
- No more than 45 days after the discriminatory action by your employer, you must notify an EEO counselor about the incident of workplace discrimination. This is the informal, pre-complaint stage, during which you work with an EEO counselor, and preferably also with an employment discrimination lawyer from HKM Employment Attorneys LLP, to decide whether to file a formal complaint.
- When you file a formal complaint, the EEOC initiates an investigation into the matter.
- You and your employer each present your respective sides of the story at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge of the EEOC.
- If the matter is not resolved by the end of the EEOC hearing, the next step is to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court.
Do not wait until right before your EEOC hearing to contact a lawyer; it is never too soon to get a lawyer involved, even if it means calling HKM Employment Attorneys LLP on your way home from work on the day when your employer said or did something that crossed the line into discrimination. Remember that you have only 45 days after the discriminatory incident to notify the EEOC, so it is important to act quickly, which means that you should contact an employment discrimination attorney now.
The Merit Systems Protection Board and Federal Employees
The EEOC is not the only entity that deals with mistreatment of federal employees by their employers. The Merit Systems Protection Board deals with disputes between employees with MSPB rights and their federal employers. The following categories of federal employees have MSPB rights:
- Most military veterans who have held the same civilian federal job for more than a year
- Competitive service employees (most civil service employees of the executive branch of the federal government)
- Some employees of the U.S. Postal Service
- Excepted service employees (members of the federal civil service whose jobs are not considered competitive service or Senior Executive service)
If you have MSPB rights and your employer takes an adverse action against you, you can appeal that adverse action with the MSPB. Examples of adverse actions include termination of employment, furloughs (mandatory unpaid leave), suspensions of employment, or reductions in pay.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) deals with human resources for many federal offices. You should contact the OPM if, for example, your employer is not providing the retirement benefits that they promised. A Minneapolis employment lawyer can help you resolve disputes with the OPM.
Equal Employment Opportunities are for Everyone, Not Just for Federal Employees
The federal government has its own departments and offices specifically for handling complaints and disputes between employers and employees, whether these complaints are about discrimination or other forms of mistreatment. Regardless of whether you work in the public or private sector, the law protects you from employment discrimination and requires your employer to abide by the terms of your employment contract. Minneapolis employment lawyers can help employees in all lines of work who have experienced discrimination and unfair treatment in the workplace.
Contact a Minneapolis Equal Opportunity Employment Lawyer
The lawyers at HKM Attorneys LLP have experience helping federal employees in the Minneapolis area as well as in all 50 states navigate the bureaucracy involved with the employment discrimination complaint process. Contact the Minneapolis federal sector employment discrimination lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP to set up a consultation.