Understanding Discrimination At Federal Workplaces
Federal employers do not always uphold federal laws – including laws against discrimination.
Our team at Passman & Kaplan, P.C. can review your case and give you personalized advice. Based in Washington, D.C., we have ample experience representing federal professionals.
Why is discrimination illegal?
Discrimination can cause many unfair outcomes, such as fewer job prospects, slower career development or less income.
Several historic federal laws, including the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act, prohibit discrimination in the workplace. They aim to give all workers an equal chance of success in their careers.
What constitutes discrimination?
Discrimination could involve:
- Unfair recruitment practices
- Physical and verbal harassment
- Lower wages as compared to other employees doing the same work
- Failure to hire or promote a job candidate
- Lack of reasonable accommodations
- Wrongful termination or demotion
To count as discriminatory, the main reason for a negative action must involve a protected class of the worker. Employers cannot discriminate based on race, gender, religion, pregnancy, age, disability and other qualities.
Federal employers must follow special rules, which are known as prohibited personnel practices. For example, they cannot discriminate based on a worker’s political affiliation. They also cannot manipulate employees’ political activity.
Can you sue the federal government for discrimination?
Yes. The federal government is subject to discrimination laws. If your employer discriminated against you, you can pursue a civil claim. However, you will first need to follow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) process to reach that point.
What does it mean when the EEOC gives me a right to sue?
After you report discrimination, the EEOC will start investigating your case. However, the investigation may take a long time. If the investigation is still open after 180 days, you may obtain a letter that allows you to start a civil lawsuit in the meantime.
If you decide to pursue a claim, you have 90 days after receiving the letter to file. It is important to speak to an attorney as early as possible so that you can make an informed decision.
What do you need to prove discrimination?
Your attorney can help you gather evidence of discrimination showing that:
- You were not treated the same as other workers with similar responsibilities.
- Those workers belonged to a different protected class, such as a different national origin or sexuality.
- The employer did not have a valid reason for treating you differently.
- Alternatively, you deserved reasonable accommodations that you requested but did not receive.
These cases can be complicated. Evidence may involve witness testimony, emails, statistical data and other sources of information.