Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

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Our EEOC Experience


Our attorneys have extensive experience representing federal employees of all federal agencies in the following:

If you do not prevail during a hearing, we can represent you in an appeal before the EEOC. Our firm’s goal is to seek full and effective relief for each and every victim of discrimination. The remedies may include:

Legal Services Offered

Tully Rinckey PLLC can represent clients at every stage of the federal government’s EEO process, from initial EEO counselor contact all the way through appeals in federal court. Call 202-787-1900 today for a consultation on your issue.

Racial Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, personal characteristics associated with race (such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features), skin color complexion, national origin, ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background (even if they are not). Title VII also prohibits harassment such as racial slurs, offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s race, color, or the display of racially-offensive symbols.

In some cases, an employment policy or practice that applies to everyone can be illegal if it has a negative impact on the employment of people of a particular race, color, or national origin. This type of discrimination, called disparate impact, arises frequently in hiring and promotion processes for law enforcement officers, who are frequently selected based on allegedly neutral tests. Also, policies precluding certain hairstyles (such as braids) may be found to be discriminatory even if they are applied to all employees alike. Additionally, it can be illegal for an employer to require an employee to speak fluent English if fluency in English is not necessary to perform the job effectively.

If you are facing any of these situations, the attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC can represent you in filing a claim or negotiating on your behalf to resolve any claims.

Tully Rinckey, PLLC can represent clients at every stage of the federal government’s EEO process, from initial EEO counselor contact all the way through appeals in federal court. Call 202-787-1900 today for a consultation on your issue.

Gender Discrimination

Sex discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of that person’s gender or potentially their sexual orientation. It is also unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s sex, even if the harassment is not of a sexual nature. For example, it is illegal for a manager to make frequent comments about women being less able or “too emotional” to handle leadership positions.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that also violates Title VII. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct affects the terms and conditions of an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

The victim, as well as the harasser, may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex; however, the harassment does have to be because of the victim’s sex to be illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, or a co-worker, but in the case of co-workers, the victim has to complain to management for the agency to be liable for that co-worker’s uncorrected conduct. Once a victim brings allegations of sexual harassment to management’s attention, management is obligated to conduct a prompt investigation and take appropriate remedial action.

If you are being discriminated against or harassed because of your sex, the attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC can assist you in filing a claim or provide representation during the agency investigation into your complaint.

Religious Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from being treated differently or unfavorably because of their religious beliefs. Additionally, Title VII requires agencies to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, such as allowing someone who observes a Friday evening Sabbath to have flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, or modifications to workplace policies or practices. Agencies must also make accommodations to dress or grooming practices done as part of an employee’s religious observation. For example, unless it creates an undue burden, agencies must allow employees to wear particular head coverings such as a yarmulke, a headscarf, or Rastafarian dreadlocks. If you are facing discrimination because of your religious beliefs or practices, or need assistance in requesting a religious accommodation, the attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC can represent you.

Age Discrimination

Age discrimination claims, which involve treating an applicant or employee who is over 40 less favorably because of his or her age, have risen dramatically in the past few years as baby boomers have chosen to work for longer than the generation before them. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, training, and any other term or condition of employment. It is also unlawful to harass or create a hostile work environment for a person because of his or her age, or to retaliate an employee for opposing or complaining about age discrimination.

If your agency asks you to waive your rights or claims under the ADEA, the attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC can give you advice on how to proceed under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act. It is important to understand your rights before agreeing to an ADEA waiver. Such waivers are commonly sought in settling ADEA discrimination claims or in connection with exit incentive programs, but the ADEA sets out specific minimum standards that must be met in order for a waiver to be considered knowing and voluntary and, therefore, valid. Among other requirements, a valid ADEA waiver must: be in writing and be understandable; specifically refer to ADEA rights or claims; not waive rights or claims that may arise in the future; be in exchange for valuable consideration in addition to anything of value to which the individual already is entitled; advise the individual in writing to consult an attorney before signing the waiver; and provide the individual at least 21 days to consider the agreement and at least seven days to revoke the agreement after signing it.

EEOC Pregnancy Discrimination

Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it is illegal for an employer to treat an applicant or employee unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC can help you bring your claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a sex discrimination case.

If a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the agency must treat the woman the same as it would treat any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, the employer may have to provide reasonable accommodations such as modified tasks, alternative assignments, disability leave or unpaid leave. Also, if an agency provides personal leave for other reasons, e.g., to take courses or other training, then the employer must grant new parents personal leave for care of a new child. Further, under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, a new parent (including foster and adoptive parents) may be eligible for 12 weeks of leave (unpaid or paid if the employee has earned or accrued leave) that may be used for care of the new child.

Equal Pay Law

The Equal Pay Act (EPA) requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal. Actual job content (not job titles, position descriptions, or grade) determines whether jobs are substantially equal. Specifically, the jobs must require substantially equal skill, effort, responsibility, and be performed under similar working conditions within the same establishment.

Once an employee establishes a prima facie case under the EPA (by showing she or he is paid less than a man or woman performing the same work), the burden of proof switches to the agency to establish an “affirmative defense” for the unequal pay. An agency can only escape liability for unequal pay when the pay differentials are based on one of the four following defenses: seniority, merit, quantity or quality of production, or a factor other than sex. To successfully assert the “factor other than sex” defense,” the agency must offer “a gender-neutral factor, applied consistently” that is “related to job requirements or otherwise is beneficial to the employer’s business.” An agency must show that the factor is related to job requirements or otherwise is beneficial to the agency’s business. The EEOC has held that an agency’s determination of a position’s classification is an insufficient defense to an EPA claim. Additionally, job classification systems qualify as a “factor other than sex” only if the systems accurately reflect job duties and/or employee qualifications.

If you think an agency is paying you less than a member of the opposite sex for the same work, you might want to request a desk audit as well as file an EEO complaint. The attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC can assist you in choosing the best strategy for getting the pay you deserve.

Disability Discrimination

Federal employees are protected from disability discrimination by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. Disability discrimination occurs when an agency harasses or treats an otherwise qualified individual with a disability unfavorably because he or she has a disability; a history of a disability (such as cancer that is controlled or in remission); or is perceived to have a physical or mental disability. The Rehabilitation Act also protects employees from discrimination based on their relationship with a person with a disability (even if they do not themselves have a disability). For example, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee because her husband or child has a disability.

In many disability discrimination cases, the central issue involves an agency’s failure to reasonably accommodate a disabled employee. The Rehabilitation Act requires agencies to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause “undue hardship” on the agency. A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment (or in the way things are usually done) to help a person with a disability perform the basic functions of a job or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment. Reasonable accommodation might include, for example, making the workplace accessible for wheelchair users, allowing an employee to telecommute or have a flexible schedule, or, in extreme cases, to be reassigned to a vacant position. Undue hardship means that the accommodation would be too difficult or too expensive for the agency to provide; however, in light of the federal government’s size and financial resources, it is much more difficult for an agency to establish an accommodation creates an undue burden than it would be for a smaller employer. In fact, the federal government is supposed to be a “model employer” with respect to the employment of individuals with disabilities.

If you need assistance requesting a reasonable accommodation or filing a complaint after an agency denied your request for reasonable accommodation or otherwise discriminated against you because of your disability, the attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC can assist you.

Retaliation

It is illegal for an agency to retaliate (or reprise) against an employee for opposing or complaining about unlawful discrimination or government waste, fraud, and abuse under any of the anti-discrimination statutes such as Title VII, the Rehabilitation Act, or the Whistleblower Protection Act. While most people are aware that it is illegal for their employers to retaliate against an employee who engaged in EEO activity, it is also illegal to retaliate against an employee who requested a reasonable accommodation (an activity protected by the Rehabilitation Act) or who reported sexual harassment to management (an activity protected by Title VII’s “opposition clause”).

If you need to file a retaliation claim or amend your pending EEO or OSC complaint to add a charge of retaliation, the attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC can assist you with either.

Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

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