No employee should have to suffer the effects of discrimination at work, or feel that their workplace is a hostile environment where they cannot fulfill their work duties in peace. Unfortunately, employees sometimes find themselves forced to report their employers to vindicate their rights. However, if you are an employee of the federal government, protecting yourself from workplace discrimination looks a bit different than it does for private employees.
There are many pieces of federal legislation that protect employees of the federal government against harassment and discrimination. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from treating employees differently based on protected characteristics, such as race, sex or religion.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency to which employees can report instances of workplace discrimination or harassment that violate federal law. The process for reporting an instance of discrimination or harassment to the EEOC is different for federal employees than it is for private employees – including strict deadlines that the employee must observe.
Meeting the deadlines
Your agency has a designated EEOC counselor. You only have 45 days from the date of the incident to report it to an EEOC counselor. Otherwise, you may lose the ability to report the incident. The EEOC counselor will give you all of the necessary paperwork to fill out as part of your report.
The counselor will walk you through your options, including your right to request a hearing from an administrative judge concerning the discrimination incident. In some cases, you can proceed directly to a lawsuit. You may hire an attorney to represent you during these hearings, and to assist you in the filing process.
If your matter is not resolved within 30 days of you reporting the incident with the EEOC, then you will have an additional 15 days to file your complaint with the proper agency official. If you miss this deadline, you could lose your right to a hearing.
The federal government has put processes in place to deal with instances of workplace discrimination, so that every federal employee can ensure that they get adequate compensation for violation of their civil rights.