As a federal employee, it is important to know your rights when it comes to workplace discrimination and harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) process is a vital tool for addressing workplace issues and ensuring that federal employees are protected from unlawful discrimination. However, if you face retaliation for engaging in the EEO process, it can be difficult to know what your rights are and how to protect yourself. In this blog post, we will explore what constitutes retaliation in the context of the EEO process and what steps you can take to protect yourself as a federal employee.
Retaliation in the context of the EEO process can take many forms, including intimidation, threats, and discouragement. In one case, a complainant faced intimidation by agency officials shortly after visiting the agency’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to inquire about her rights. The Acting Director and the RMO confronted her about filing an EEO complaint. The complainant alleged threats, while the RMO denied explicit threats but acknowledges discouraging remarks. Another agency official also warned her that filing a suit would be like a “nuclear attack.”
If you are facing similar actions following your involvement in EEO activities, it is important to know that this constitutes unlawful interference with your EEO rights and is a per se violation of anti-retaliation laws and regulations. Previous cases like Lewis v. Postmaster General and Mindy O. v. Secretary of Homeland Security also established that attempts to discourage or intimidate an employee from filing an EEO complaint are unequivocally prohibited and constitute per se violations.
Furthermore, even comments made jokingly about an employee’s EEO activity, such as in the Charlie K. case, can be a per se violation if they have a chilling effect on the use of the EEO complaint process. It is important to note that these protections extend to all federal employees, regardless of whether you are a new hire or a long-time employee.
As a federal employee, it is important to know your rights when it comes to workplace discrimination and harassment. Retaliation for engaging in the EEO process can take many forms, but it is important to remember that any attempt to discourage or intimidate you from filing an EEO complaint is unequivocally prohibited and constitutes a per se violation. These are often strong cases which make it particularly important for you to contact a federal employment attorney if you think this situation might apply to you. Our firm offers free consultations for federal employees.