Federal agencies are forbidden from discriminating in their hiring processes based on things like race, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, and a number of other factors thanks to Equal Employment Opportunity legislation (EEO). While this has been the law for quite some time, there are still instances in which this discrimination occurs. If you feel as though you have been the victim of these selective hiring practices at a federal agency, it is strongly advised you file an EEO complaint. How? Let’s look at the process.
Speak with a Counselor
The first step to the process is to speak with an EEO counselor at the agency where you work or applied to work. The counselor will then give you the choice of participating in counseling or some form of alternative resolution, like mediation. You must speak with the counselor within 45 days of the discrimination action.
File a Formal Complaint
If the counselor cannot solve your issue, you can file a formal complaint. The agency will review the complaint and determine whether to sustain or dismiss it for a procedural reason (such as filing too late). If the agency accepts your complaint, they must complete an investigation within 180 days.
From there, you can either ask the agency to issue a decision or request a hearing before an EEOC Administrative judge. If you ask for a decision and the investigation determines no discrimination occurred, then you may appeal the decision or challenge it in court.
Request a Hearing
If you request a hearing, an EEOC Administrative Judge will hear the case and issue a decision. If they believe discrimination occurred, they will order relief. Once the agency receives the decision, they will have 40 days to issue an order which either accepts the decision or denies it, called the agency’s Final Action. If your complaint is denied, you will have the right to file both an appeal and a civil action.
File an Appeal
You must file this appeal within 30 days of your receiving the final order. If you file an appeal, EEOC appellate attorneys will review the entire case, including the agency’s investigation and the judge’s decision, and make a decision. If the agency disagrees with any part of the Administrative Judge’s decision, it will file one of these appeals as well.
If you are once again denied, you may ask for reconsideration, which will only be granted if you can show the decision was made with an error in the facts of the case or how the law was applied to it. It’s strongly advised that you have a lawyer review your case before making the decision to pursue this.
The agency also has the right to appeal to the EEOC to reconsider the decision if they disagree with it.
Once the reconsideration request is made, the decision becomes final.
File a Lawsuit
It is possible to drop the complaint process and file a lawsuit in court during the complaint process. You can do this when the agency you filed the complaint with does not issue a decision within 180 days, within 90 days of your receipt of the agency’s decision regarding your complaint, or if the EEOC does not issue a decision regarding your appeal within 180 days.
If you need assistance with a federal employment law matter, John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorney at Law can help! We understand the immense stress you are experiencing when your career is on the line, and we have helped thousands of clients navigate the complexities of their case. Attorney Mahoney has been named one of the Top Rated Lawyers in the DC Metro area as well as received an AV® Preeminent™ rating from Martindale-Hubbell®, two highly prestigious honors. With more than 24 years of service to federal employees, unions, and agencies, Attorney Mahoney has a detailed knowledge of the law and can help you with all federal employment issues, including equal employment opportunity complaints.Call John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorney at Law today at (877) 771-2231 to receive a free 30-minute phone consultation and discuss your issue further!