California EEO/Discrimination Lawyer
Who Can File a Complaint with EEO?
The EEO complaint process applies to federal employees as well as job applicants for employment with a federal agency. The complaint process also applies to individuals who have been retaliated against for opposing employment discrimination, filing a complaint for discrimination, or who participated in the EEO process, even if the complaint was not theirs, such as witnesses.
What is Covered by EEO Complaints?
Federal law prohibits discrimination, harassment, and retaliation because of an employee or job applicant’s race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, or political affiliation.
What is the EEO Process?
The EEO process involves both informal and formal complaint processes, both of which must be followed to comply with federal law. If you wish to file a complaint for discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, you must contact an agency EEO counsel prior to filing a formal complaint in order to begin the informal complaint process.
Employees or job applicants wishing to proceed with a complaint for discrimination, harassment, or retaliation have a short time under federal law to file a complaint – just 45 days to initiate contact with the EEO Counselor from the aggrieved activity (the harassment, the discriminatory act, or the retaliation, like suspension, termination, demotion, etc). Each federal agency is required to post information about how to contact the agency’s EEO Office to begin the complaint process, but your Agency’s EEO Counselor responsible for your agency’s EEO complaints can assist. In limited circumstances, the 45 day time limit may be extended if you can show that you were not notified of the time limits or not aware of them, that you did not reasonably know the discriminatory matter occurred, or you were prevented by circumstances beyond your control from contacting the Counselor within the 45 day time limit. However, it is important that you not relay on the time period being extended and that you take prompt action if you believe you have been discriminated against, harassed, or retaliated against.
After you have filed your complaint with the EEO Counselor, the complaint will be investigated. You may have options to elect to resolve your issues through the Alternative Dispute Resolution Process (ADR) or proceed with a formal complaint. Be mindful that the EEO has strict deadlines for proceeding with your claims which you should take seriously so that you do not lose the abilities to continue on with your claims. Additional information about the EEO Process and timing is provided on the EEOC website here and here.
Importantly, you must go through the administrative process of filing a complaint before you can file a lawsuit.
If you are a federal employee or applicant for a job with a federal agency and believe you have been discriminated against, harassed, or retaliated against on the basis of your race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, or political affiliation – we can help. Contact an experienced federal employee attorney with Scott Wagner and Associates today to schedule a consultation.