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Workplace Discrimination
Understanding Discrimination Hiring Practices Passed Over for Promotion by Less Qualified Employees

When you’re expecting a promotion and your supervisor suddenly gives it to another candidate, it can be frustrating. You may be wondering why you were passed over in favor of someone else, especially if they aren’t as qualified as you are. If you ask your boss and don’t get a satisfactory answer, there may be a reason.

Unfortunately, discrimination in the federal workplace is not a new problem. Being passed over for a promotion in favor of a less-qualified candidate is not uncommon either. If you suspect you’re the victim of workplace discrimination, you need to contact a skilled federal employment lawyer right away.

Discrimination in Promotion or Non-Selection

Federal employers can choose to hire and promote someone for numerous legitimate reasons. However, the law prohibits employers from passing on an employee if their motives are rooted in certain types of discrimination. Actions that are even somewhat discriminatory are unlawful. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating in any facet of employment, including hiring, termination, referral, promotion, etc. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the agency that enforces these laws.  

Employers cannot refuse to promote or hire someone because of:

  • Gender, including sexual harassment;
  • Pregnancy;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Gender identity;
  • Race;
  • Age;
  • Disability; or
  • Ethnicity.

Proving discrimination is not necessarily easy, but it’s not impossible. If you believe you were discriminated against, you have the right to take legal action against your federal agency. To better understand what workplace discrimination looks like, here are several other examples:

  • An employer excludes employees of a certain race during recruitment activities;
  • An employer denies employee benefits or bonus compensation to older employees;
  • An employer gives different amounts of overtime to equally qualified employees in the same position based on their gender;
  • An employer impermissibly discriminates when deciding who to terminate or who to promote; or
  • An internal employment opportunity notice expresses a preference for employees who don’t have children.

If you are considering pursuing a formal complaint about your missed promotion, you need to act quickly. You don’t have a lot of time to initiate your EEO complaint.

What to Do When You Are Passed Over for a Promotion?

Employees who have experienced discrimination in their workplace have legal rights. You should start by asking the hiring manager or your boss to explain why you were not promoted. If they don’t give you a straight answer or your gut tells you there is something they are leaving out, consider digging deeper. This is an excellent time to contact an experienced federal employee lawyer.

At the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, we focus on legal issues affecting federal employees. We have years of experience representing clients in workplace harassment and discrimination claims. There is no harm in contacting us to discuss your situation. We can evaluate your case and let you know what the best course of legal action is.

Depending on the circumstances, your attorney may suggest you make a complaint about the alleged discrimination. This is when you want to pay close attention to conversations in your office. Look for patterns of discrimination. Some incidents may not be overt. Gather any text messages, emails, or other documents you have that could point to discrimination in the workplace.

Understandably, you might be concerned about retaliation after reporting that you were passed over for a promotion by a less-qualified candidate. While illegal, retaliation does occur in workplaces, including federal agencies. If you reported discrimination or harassment and adverse employment action has been taken against you, it’s time to contact our office.

Filing an EEOC Claim as a Federal Employee

If you are considering filing a EEO complaint of discrimination against your agency, the process is unique for federal employees. Your first step is to speak with an EEO counselor at the agency where you work. Typically, you have only 45 days from the date of discrimination to contact them. You can then elect to process your case through traditional EEO counseling or an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program. A qualified federal employment attorney can advise you as to which route to take in your specific case. 

In the event your dispute doesn’t resolve through one of these two methods, you have up to 15 days to file a formal complaint with your agency’s EEO office, which leads to a fact-finding investigation. Once they have completed this investigation, you have the choice to have the agency issue their decision through a final agency decision (FAD) or request a hearing before an EEOC administrative law judge. Depending on the outcome, you may later need to appeal by filing a civil action in federal court.

Consult a Federal Employee Lawyer Today

When you have been passed over for a promotion in favor of a less qualified candidate, you have the right to take action. If there is discrimination happening in your federal workplace, it’s probably not an isolated incident. Employers cannot discriminate against employees, nor can they retaliate if an employee reports an incident.

To learn more about your legal options after being discriminated against, contact the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing today.

Author Photo

Aaron Wersing, Attorney at Law

Aaron Wersing is the founder of the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing. His practice focuses on assisting federal employees with a broad array of litigation and transactional matters.  To reach Aaron for a free consultation, please call him at (833) 833-3529.