When a federal employee files an EEOC hearing request in their formal EEO complaint or an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), properly and timely engaging in the discovery process is critical to their success. The discovery process is the backbone of any successful EEOC Case or MSPB appeal, and understanding its importance is vital for federal employees to ensure their EEO complaint or MSPB appeal has the best chance at success.
Let’s explore why engaging in the discovery process is essential for EEOC hearings and MSPB appeals.
The Discovery Process
The discovery process is a crucial step that allows a federal employee complainant or appellant to gather evidence, review documents, and obtain testimonies from witnesses to build a solid case for their EEOC case or MSPB appeal. This process allows EEOC complainants and MSPB appellants to gather evidence necessary to prove what happened, why it happened, why it happened based on intentional EEO discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, or for some other prohibited personnel practice reasons, and how it impacted them.
During this part of the process, information can be requested from defendant agencies through interrogatories (written questions), document requests, and admission requests, which all should be utilized in every case. Additionally, sworn depositions under oath and penalty of perjury before a licensed court reporter are especially necessary for a federal employee complainant or appellant to prove their EEO complaint, whistleblower retaliation action, and/or disprove any misconduct or unacceptable performance alleged against them by their agency defendant. Depositions require witnesses to answer questions under oath before a court reporter and without being coached by the agency’s attorney. This can provide a great opportunity to prove the agency’s responsible management official’s (RMO) true intent in taking or failing to take, or threatening to take or failing to take the personnel actions at issue in your EEO complaint or MSPB appeal, which is necessary for you to prove to establish discrimination or whistleblower retaliation.
Prior to a hearing before an EEOC or MSPB administrative judge, depositions will likely be the only other opportunity to establish the RMO’s true intent in taking the complained of concrete personnel action at issue in your case. Depositions will also provide you insight into potential arguments that can be used during your hearing.
EEOC complainants and MSPB appellants need to be proactive throughout the entire discovery process by anticipating issues that are likely to arise during their hearings and timely moving the judge to compel any more complete responses necessary from the agency defendant. By being proactive, you can make sure you stay on schedule to timely engaging in and completing full blown discovery in your case, so you can properly engage in dispositive motions practice and hearing in your case.
Appellants should also keep track of all their progress throughout this stage of their appeals to ensure everything runs smoothly and stay organized when presenting evidence at their hearings. Being proactive will help you create a strong foundation upon which you can confidently offer your evidence and arguments during your hearing.
Having representation throughout this stage of your appeal is highly recommended since federal employment attorneys are experienced in handling federal employment complaints, appeals, discovery, hearing, and understand how best to navigate through the appeals process successfully. Experienced attorneys can also anticipate issues much better than non-attorneys due to their experience handling cases similar to yours, making them invaluable resources when preparing for your hearing.
Defending Your Rights & Federal Career
Engaging in the discovery process is essential for any successful EEOC case or MSPB appeal because it allows appellants opportunities to obtain evidence necessary to meet their burdens of proof in their cases, as well as anticipate issues that are likely to arise during any dispositive motions and/or hearings. When handling your EEOC case or MSPB appeal, an experienced federal employment attorney can guide you through this process and help you protect your rights and federal career.
At The Law Firm of John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law, PLLC, our top-rated, award-winning federal employment attorneys are dedicated to helping our clients obtain favorable outcomes. Schedule a consultation today by calling our firm at (202) 350-3881.