Federal Employee Discrimination: What Remedies Are Available to Federal Employees?
Discrimination in the federal workforce is strictly prohibited on the basis of protected status such as race, gender, religion, color, national origin, or disability status. Unfortunately, even with laws in place aimed at preventing government employers from engaging in discriminatory behavior in connection with hiring, firing, or any terms and conditions of employment, discrimination still happens.
When unlawful discrimination does occur, the worker who has fallen victim can take advantage of legal remedies. A Maryland employment lawyer can provide invaluable assistance in understanding the different options available for taking appropriate action after workplace discrimination has occurred within the federal workforce. To find out more about how an experienced attorney can assist you in asserting your rights after you were victimized by unlawful discrimination, give us a call today.
Remedies Available for Federal Employee Discrimination
As a federal employee, the process you must follow to report discrimination differs significantly from that required of employees in the private sector. You will need to contact an EEO counselor at the agency where you work in order to initiate the EEO process.
This should be done within 45 days following the discriminatory act, unless you were unaware at the time that discrimination was occurring. There are limited exceptions to the time limit for making your complaint, such as when circumstances beyond your control prevented you from taking action within the deadline even though you did your due diligence.
When you report the discrimination, you may be required to complete some initial paperwork. Although the counselor who you are reporting the discrimination to will provide you with assistance, the counselor cannot provide you with legal advice and you need to remember that the counselor works for the federal government and not for you.
After you’ve initiated the EEO process, you’ll get EEO counseling which typically lasts around 30 days. The counselor can work with management to advise them of the issues you experienced and to try to come up with constructive solutions that resolve the issue for everyone. An informal resolution agreement may be reached during this process.
During the counseling period you will be asked to consider Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) or mediation. If you opt for early ADR or mediation, you may be able to resolve the case. The job of the mediator is to try to facilitate open communication and achieve an effective resolution without the need for further legal action, which can make compromise easier. If you take part in ADR or mediation, this will typically result in the counseling period being extended, typically to either 60 or 90 days. You can also request an extension of the counseling period in other circumstances as well.
If your case is not resolved in counseling, you’ll be given a Notice of Right to File a Formal Complaint, which must be filed within a strict deadline and which should provide the basis of your claim as well as your requested remedy. The agency you work for may accept your complaint, accept part of it, or dismiss it. You can appeal to an Administrative Law Judge who works for the EEOC if you’re dissatisfied with the decision, or may be able to appeal to the EEOC Office of Federal Operations if your claims were dismissed. If you appeal, there will be a hearing. If you aren’t able to come to a resolution, you can file a lawsuit in federal court.
Determining which course of action is best to obtain a legal remedy can be difficult, as can taking steps to prove your claim. A Maryland employment lawyer can help you to gather evidence, make your claim in the appropriate forum, and take steps to maximize the chances you will get the remedy you seek after you were victimized by unlawful discrimination. To find out more about how an attorney can help you, call The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C. at 410-514-6099 or contact us online today.