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Government Discrimination

Governmental Discrimination

Governmental Discrimination is like any other type that would occur in the private sector, such as discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, or disability. Governmental discrimination is discrimination committed by the government or in a government setting towards a governmental or federal employee.

If you work directly for the federal or state government, or one of their agencies, you are considered a government employee. This means that any legal dispute you may have arising from your employment in regards to discrimination lawsuits is handled very differently than if you were in the private sector.

Common Governmental Discrimination Cases

Some typical governmental discrimination cases involve:

  • Race – Many suits on the basis of race challenge the constitutionality of government programs that are designed to provide contracts/subcontracts to disadvantaged/minority business enterprises.
  • Age – Several suits on the basis of age allege employers made reassignments and forced the retirement of employees of certain ages.
  • National origin – Some suits on the basis of national origin claim governmental discrimination in the exclusion of resident aliens from some civil service jobs.

Procedure to File a Discrimination Suit against A Government Employer

The Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) Act is the body of law that governs governmental discrimination disputes.  Below is a list of steps a person will follow if they chose to file a complaint.

In nearly all cases, you must first file your complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before filing a lawsuit against your employer. The complaint must be filed by mail or in person within 180 days. This 180-day filing deadline is extended to 300 days if the charge also is covered by a state or local anti-discrimination law. Your EEOC complaint must include:

  • Your name, address and telephone number
  • Name, address, and telephone number of the alleged discriminatory employer, employment agency, or union, and number of employees (or union members), if known
  • Short description of the event that caused you to believe your rights were violated, including the date(s) of the alleged violation(s)

Federal employees or applicants for employment who believe they are victims of governmental discrimination should contact an EEOC Counselor at that federal agency within 45 days of the discriminatory action.

In most cases, you will have the options of participating in EEO counseling or in an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program to try to resolve and settle the matter out of court.  This step usually occurs within 30-60 days of meeting with an EEO counselor.

If ADR is not successful, the second step would be to file a formal complaint with the EEO office of the agency. This must be done within 15 days from the day your EEO counselor notifies you how to file.

After the complaint is received, the EEO reviews it and decides if it should be dismissed or accepted. The agency has 180 days in which to conduct an investigation if they decide to accept the complaint. After the investigation is complete, the EEO gives you have two choices:

  1. You may ask for a hearing before an EEOC Administrative Judge; or
  2. You may request the agency to make the decision on whether the discrimination occurred.

If you decide to request a hearing with the EEOC, a written request must be filed within 30 days of the date the agency notifies you of your hearing rights. An EEOC administrative judge will conduct the hearing and decide of your case. If they find you have a valid complaint, they will award damages.

The final step is in cases where the agency makes the decision and concludes that no discrimination has transpired, you can appeal to the EEOC or take the complaint to federal district court.

After the administrative complaint process is complete, you can file a lawsuit. However, under certain conditions within the process you will have an opportunity to quit it and file a lawsuit in court.

Additional Discrimination Laws

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) simply put, prohibits employment discrimination against persons 40 years of age or older.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in general, prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. It included jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private areas that are open to the general public.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is probably the most significant anti-discrimination law. Title VII prohibits government employers from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, and national origin.

Title VII protects job applicants and employees from discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion or national origin. It prohibits employers from treating workers with bias based on these traits in any aspect of employment, including recruiting, hiring, promotion, performance measurement, discipline, and wages.

The law also disallows the segregation of these protected groups by isolating them from other employees or customers. Moreover, it forbids harassment and a hostile work environment, which involves offensive conduct such as ethnic slurs or racist “jokes”.

Remedies Available for Government Discrimination

If you have a successful complaint you may entitled to damages. Compensatory damages are awarded for the loss of future wages and emotional distress in addition to pain & suffering.

Punitive damages are allowed but are restricted to cases where the employer discriminates with malice or reckless indifference to the individual's rights. Both damages have a cap and are dependent on the size of the agency.

The most frequently awarded remedy is back pay. It is a combination of the wages, salary, and benefits the individual would have earned during the period extending from the date of the incident (non-promotion or termination) to the date of trial.

Other common remedies may include attorney's fees, court costs, costs of expert witnesses, and rarely injunctive relief to reinstatement of the former position.

How Can A Governmental Discrimination Lawyer Help Me?

There are laws that have been enacted to ensure everyone is treated fairly and to protect people from the misconduct or negligence of employers. If you feel that the government has discriminated against you, speak to a government lawyer, or an experienced employment attorney can help advocate on your behalf and ensure your rights are protected.

The complaint process is complex so it is wise to consult with a lawyer to discuss your options if the discrimination occurred at a government job. Speaking with the proper attorney experienced in governmental discrimination cases will help educate you of your rights as well as preserve any legal remedies you may have.