If you are a federal employee or a United States Postal Service (USPS) employee and you need to pursue a discrimination matter including unlawful harassment or retaliation/reprisal for engaging in EEO activity, your process is much different than the process for non-federal employees.
In general, a federal employee must begin the EEO process within 45 days of the last act of discrimination, harassment, or reprisal/retaliation. This is done by the employee reaching out to an EEO Counselor to make a claim of unlawful discrimination or retaliation/reprisal. The EEO Counselor will then advise you of your rights/responsibilities and will give you the option to proceed with EEO counseling or participating in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
If ADR is declined or is not successful, then you will need to move forward with filing a formal EEO. When you file a formal complaint, you will be interviewed by the EEO office generally within 30 days of the date that you first contacted the EEO office or within 90 days if you participated in some form of ADR related to your complaint. Once you file the formal complaint, your Agency will review the matter to determine whether or not some or all of your complaint will be dismissed. If the Agency dismisses all of your claims, you must file an appeal within 30 days of the dismissal. In some cases, the Agency may dismiss some but not all of your claims. If this is the case, then you must wait until the Agency issues a final order regarding your claims before you can appeal the partial dismissal.
Once the formal complaint is filed and has not been dismissed in its entirety, then the Agency must begin to investigate. The Agency is required to complete the investigation within 180 days of filing. That deadline can be extended if you decide to add in new complaints or file new complaints that need to be investigated or if you agree to give the Agency an extension of up to 90 days. It is very important to remember that the investigation process is simply an investigation and not a determination of whether the unlawful discrimination or retaliation/reprisal has occurred. The Agency investigator’s only role is to gather the information together, the Agency investigators do not decide your case.
Once the investigation is complete, you will be advised by the Agency that the investigation is complete, and you can ask for a hearing or you can file a lawsuit in federal court, or you can ask for a final Agency decision (FAD). In almost all circumstances, we recommend that you file a request for a hearing with an EEOC Administrative Judge. To do that, you must file a request for a hearing within 30 days of the date that you received the notice of your right to file such a hearing from your Agency. If you request a hearing before the EEOC, your matter will be assigned to an Administrative Judge (AJ) who is employed by the EEOC and whose job is to hear federal and postal service employee’s claims regarding EEO matters. Do not take this matter lightly.
Although this is called a hearing, it is very much similar to what happens in a state or federal court when someone has brought lawsuit. There will be a process called discovery in which both parties can engage in seeking information from the other party via written discovery including Requests for Admissions, Interrogatories, and Document Requests as well as Depositions which are under-oath testimonies taken before a court reporter or other authority. Additionally, there are often motions that have to be dealt with that can severely impact your claim. For example, in most every case, the Agency will file a request to have your case thrown out. This request is called a “Motion for a Decision Without A Hearing” or a “Motion for Summary Judgment”. If that motion is granted, the proceeding is over and your only option will then be to appeal the decision that was issued without having your “day in court” so to speak.
I have been representing federal employees for nearly a decade now and I bring a substantial amount of experience with me into the courtroom and during litigation. My experience stems from my years as an EEOC Trial Attorney and current practice representing federal employees in EEO Administrative and MSPB hearings. I currently represent federal and postal employees throughout the US.
If you are a federal or postal employee who is facing discrimatnion, harassment, retaliation/reprisal or if you are facing an EEOC hearing, do not delay. Contact Attorney Kirk J. Angel today.