Racial discrimination in the workplace is still shockingly common. Federal employees submit between 20,000 and 40,000 complaints of racial discrimination every year.
Countless more incidents of racial complaints either resolve at an informal level or go completely unreported. As a result, every federal employee must know what racial discrimination is.
In addition, they also need to know how to respond to it by filing a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
If you are facing possible racial discrimination, then you’ll want to peruse this piece. We’ll first touch on what racial discrimination is under applicable law. Then, we will walk you through filing an EEOC complaint.
Contact a dedicated team of federal employment attorneys today if you have additional questions or want legal advice on your specific legal situation.
Identifying Racial Discrimination
Racial discrimination has been illegal in both federal and private workplaces since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But what exactly is racial discrimination?
The simple definition is any unfavorable treatment of a person in employment because of their race. While it may sound simple enough, this definition has a few nuances to understand. For one, a person’s race includes their race and related characteristics.
Examples of potential racial characteristics include a person’s hair type, facial structure, or skin color. In addition, “in employment” extends to every possible facet of a person’s job.
Actions that can constitute racial discrimination include:
- Not allowing the person to take necessary or beneficial training;
- Excluding the person from meetings or work events;
- Firing or demoting them;
- Paying them less than other employees who are in a similar situation;
- Refusing to hire them for a position despite their qualifications;
- Not giving the person fringe benefits, like parking spots and health insurance; and
- Increasing or decreasing their workload.
Racial discrimination often goes hand-in-hand with color discrimination, which is unfavorable treatment because of your skin color.
While the two issues are very similar, there can be vital differences. Many racial discrimination cases involve racial harassment, which is offensive behavior that makes your working environment objectively hostile.
Filing an EEOC Racial Discrimination Complaint
All EEOC racial discrimination complaints begin with a complaint to your agency’s local equal employment opportunity (EEO) office. It’s easy to initiate this.
All you have to do is find your local EEO office’s contact information and report the discrimination to an EEO counselor.
Contacting a counselor begins the information EEO complaint process. The counselor will try to resolve your claims through traditional counseling (which involves discussing your claims with your management) or mediation. You can choose which path to follow.
If you can’t resolve your complaint at this level, you will file a formal EEOC complaint with your agency. This triggers an investigation into the facts by a third-party investigator.
The investigator will interview you, your management, the person responsible for the discrimination, and any witnesses to the behavior. They’ll also collect certain agency evidence.
At the end of the investigation, the investigator will send you and your agency a Report of Investigation (ROI) that documents the factual landscape surrounding your complaint. You will also receive the right to request an EEOC hearing before an administrative judge or a Final Agency Decision.
Requesting an EEOC hearing with an administrative judge initiates formal litigation. It’s essential you have an attorney representing you by the time you request a hearing.
The administrative judge will set an initial conference to discuss your claims and key procedural details. The judge will then allow the parties to conduct discovery and set a hearing date.
While you go through the discovery process and prepare for a hearing, you may have the opportunity to negotiate a fair settlement with your agency.
Lawyers can be especially invaluable here because of their negotiation skills and experience. If you’re unable to negotiate a settlement, you’ll attend a hearing.
The administrative judge will hear evidence from both parties and determine whether your claims have merit. You can choose to appeal an unfavorable decision.
Get the Experienced Legal Assistance You Deserve.
As you can see, the EEOC complaint filing process is complex. It takes months or years to resolve and involves many specific deadlines and procedural requirements.
Failure to abide by these deadlines can torpedo your case and jeopardize your career.
To ensure you get the best outcome possible, contact the team at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing. Our entire practice revolves around defending the rights of federal employees.
That means we know how to effectively assess your legal needs and brainstorm the best strategies for resolving your case. Furthermore, it costs nothing to have an initial consultation with us.
Call today or visit our website to get going.