Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Retaliation Rights of Federal Employees

Federal employees benefit from legal protections greater than most private-sector employees. However, these legal protections do not guarantee employees are protected from any perceived unfair treatment on the job. Instead, the laws provide potential solutions for those whose legal rights have been infringed upon at work under certain circumstances. These legal protections mean that, if you suffer from illegal mistreatment by your federal employer, you have options to forcefully respond to that problem. For example, if you believe you have recently been unlawfully discriminated or retaliated against in the workplace, you can pursue legal remedies for the harm you have suffered. You will want a skillful employment law attorney on your side because federal employment discrimination claims can be complicated.

Can Federal Employees be Lawfully Discriminated or Retaliated Against?

As broadly defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, “discrimination” is the “unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things.” Not all discrimination in the workplace is unlawful. For example, your supervisor may fail to praise your superior contributions to a project and, instead, may praise the contributions made by a coworker your supervisor simply likes better than you. This situation is unjust, but it is not illegal. Even if your coworker belongs to a different category of people, such as a different race or sex, this situation is not illegal because your supervisor did not praise your coworker based on those differences, but the supervisor took this action just because he/she likes your coworker better than you. However, if you are mistreated or treated differently in the workplace because you belong to a protected legal class, that mistreatment is unlawful.

What is a Protected Legal Class?

Various federal laws protect employees who have traditionally been made vulnerable to discrimination, based on immutable characteristics within a specific group. Immutable characteristics cannot be changed or are unchanging over time. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) safeguards employees with disabilities from discriminatory and retaliatory workplace treatment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

Federal law protects employees against disciplinary actions grounded in certain motivations. For example, federal agencies are prohibited from discriminating against employees—e.g. disciplining employees, based on a protected basis, such as their age (age 40 or over), religion, sex, national origin, race, or disability—or taking such action in retaliation for an employee’s prior protected activity, such as requesting an accommodation or initiating an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) claim.

Can Probationary Employees be Lawfully Discriminated Against?

While probationary employees can generally be disciplined, up to and including removal from service, at any time and for any reason, the law protects them from unlawful discrimination and retaliation. If you are a probationary employee and have been disciplined or otherwise treated unfairly for discriminatory reasons, you have the same right to seek legal recourse similar to non-probationary employees.

Contact a Federal Employment Law Attorney at Our Firm Today

From your perspective as an employee, it is not always easy to know whether your employer has disciplined, removed, or otherwise mistreated you for illegal discriminatory or retaliatory reasons. Employers are often dishonest about their motivations when their conduct is guided by discriminatory or retaliatory intent. It is crucial to connect with the lawyers at Avery Dooley & Noone, LLP for clarification and guidance if you believe that you may be suffering from discriminatory or retaliatory treatment in the workplace. Our firm has decades of combined experience successfully navigating federal employment discrimination and retaliation matters. We know how to assess an employee’s case to provide objective, personalized legal guidance, and the support you need, at a trying time in your life. To learn more about your rights and our approach to representation, connect with the knowledgeable legal team and support staff at Avery Dooley & Noone, LLP, by calling (617) 489-5300 or contacting us online. We look forward to speaking with you.