Regarding anti-discrimination and harassment cases, federal employees have specific guidelines and regulations for filing claims. If you are currently a federal employee or were fired from federal employment based on discrimination or harassment, you will benefit from working with an experienced attorney. You may be entitled to compensatory damages, attorneys fees and costs, punitive damages, and other types of damages by pursuing a claim.
Fighting for the Rights of Federal Employees
At HKM Employment Attorneys, our skilled New Paltz, New York, attorneys have an in-depth understanding of the complexities involved with federal employee complaints. We will carefully listen to the facts in your case and help you understand your legal options under federal law. Anti-discrimination and anti-harassment claims have strict filing deadlines, so it is crucial that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible.
Examples of Unlawful, Discriminatory Practices by Federal Employers
Federal employees are protected by the many federal laws related to discrimination and harassment. If you are an employee and a federal agency, you have legal protections against being discriminated against due to your membership in a protected class. Specifically, your employer cannot take adverse employment action against you based on your race, religion, color, sex, gender, national origin, age (over 40), disability, or sexual orientation.
Federal employers cannot allow a hostile work environment to occur. By allowing ongoing harassing comments, employees can be subjected to sexual harassment that is so pervasive it creates an unlawful hostile work environment. Additionally, an employer cannot deny your request for reasonable accommodations because of your disability or religious beliefs. They can only deny an accommodation request when they engage with your request, attempt to provide it, and try to compromise if the request burdens them.
Federal employers cannot deny your request for eligible unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). As long as you request leave for a valid reason, such as caring for your medical condition, that of your loved one, or after giving birth or adopting a child, they must grant your leave without retaliation. Finally, your federal employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a claim related to discrimination or harassment. They cannot retaliate against you for assisting with another employee’s lawsuit or discrimination investigation.
Pursuing a Claim for Discrimination or Harassment as a Federal Employee in New York
Federal employees have some of the same rights as employees in the private sector, such as the right to work in a harassment and discrimination-free workplace. To pursue a claim for harassment or retaliation as a federal employee in New York, you must go through an internal administrative complaint process. This is a different process than employees in the private sector must go through. It is also different than simply notifying your human resources department that you have a complaint. Specifically, you will need to contact the EEO counselor at your federal agency within 45 days of the last discriminatory action that has occurred.
After you have provided notice, you will need to take steps to begin the process. The pre-complaint stage involves filing an internal EEO complaint. After you have submitted that, the investigative phase will occur. This is part of the formal EEO process, called the “Formal Complaint” process. There will then be a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
Pursuing a Claim in Federal District Court
You may able able to pursue a lawsuit in a U.S. District Court. At the end of the investigation by the EEO officer, you can request a decision based on the investigative report or go in front of an EEOC administrative judge. If the result of either of those options is that you do not succeed in your claim, you can pursue filing a claim in Federal court. As mentioned, there are strict deadlines for pursuing claims against federal employees. You could lose your right to pursue a claim if you file your notice within 45 days of the discriminatory action. The sooner you reach out to a skilled attorney, the better you can protect yourself and preserve your rights.
The Federal Merit Systems Protection Board
The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 outlines the specific process that employees need to take to appeal certain personnel actions. The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board is headquartered in Washington DC but has Regional field offices in major cities. If you have rights as a federal employee under the MSPB and your agency takes an action against you that can be appealed, you have the right to file a complaint. Federal employees with MSPB Rights include the following:
- Certain postal service employees
- Certain competitive service and accepted service employees
- Veterans Preference eligible employees with at least one year of continuous employment in the same or similar position outside the competitive service
Your agency has a legal obligation to provide you with notice of your rights, including how to appeal, deadlines, and other specifics about the process. The following types of adverse actions are appealable with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board:
- Furloughs of 30 days or less
- Reductions in pay or grade
- Suspensions of over 14 days
- Removal from service
- Performance-based removals or reduction in grade
- Denials of within-grade salary increases
- Certain OPM actions, such as decisions in retirement matters
- Reduction in force actions
- Complaints of discrimination in personnel actions that can’t otherwise be appealed
Learn More About Your Legal Options from an Experienced Attorney
Are you a federal employee working in New York facing an adverse employment action in the workplace? Do you feel that you have been discriminated against, subjected to a hostile work environment, or otherwise denied your employment rights? If so, you may have a valid legal claim. The sooner you speak to an experience attorney, the better.
At HKM Employment Attorneys, we represent clients in New Paltz, New York, and the surrounding area. Our employment attorneys have a proven track record of successfully representing clients in a wide range of issues. Contact HKM Employment Attorneys to schedule an initial case evaluation.