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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/23/19

EEOC Fails Federal Workers

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Nothing's equal about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The federal agency, created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), is to interpret and apply federal laws barring discrimination for federal employers and non-federal employers. However, the EEOC fails federal workers. The professed enforcement agency often collapses when executing guidelines on equality for federal employees and job applicants seeking federal employment.

The Coalition for Change, Inc. (C4C) is a civil rights advocacy organization. The group comprises former and present employees harmed due to federal workplace race discrimination and reprisal. As C4C's President, I routinely hear employee complaints about the EEOC's wrongdoings. This article highlights four of them. Expressly, it covers:

1) How the EEOC unequally applies federal sector EEO complaint processing guidelines;

2) How the EEOC obscurely provides transparency when posting the discriminatory acts happening in "federal" agencies;

3) How the EEOC routinely fails to refer proven discrimination cases over for disciplinary action; and

4) How the EEOC unduly subjects its staff to "contract judges" under the EEOC's monetary control.

The EEOC Applies Federal Sector EEO Complaint Guidelines Unequally.

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 29 CFR 1614 sets complaint guidelines federal employers and federal employees or applicants are to follow. However, the EEOC enforces the guidelines lopsidedly. To illustrate, 29 C.F.R. Â 1614.106(e) (2) requires agencies to investigate and to issue a report to the complainant "within 180 days" of the complaint filing. Nevertheless, federal agencies commonly ignore the 180-day fact-finding requirement and the EEOC commonly ignores agencies' non-compliance. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is a cabinet-level department that the EEOC seemingly excuses from meeting complaint guidelines with no consequences. Notably, the Office of Special Counsel (2015) wrote: ". . . 50 % of civil rights complaints filed against high-level USDA Agriculture officials were not acted on the legally required timeframe." According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, the EEOC is fully aware that a double standard exists. An EEOC Commissioner admitted that a "complaint would be dismissed if a complainant missed any of the deadlines" (GAO, Equal Employment Opportunity, August 2009, GAO-09-712 p. 12).

The EEOC Obscurely Provides Transparency When Posting The Discriminatory Acts Happening In "Federal" Agencies.

Look at the EEOC's Virtual Newsroom. Or, visit the EEOC's main website with the alternating banner. Note how the EEOC press releases focus on "non-federal" employers like Walmart, Applebee's, and Golden Corral. The EEOC seldom transparently reveals the unlawful, harmful or costly discriminatory acts taking place within the U.S. Federal Government, America's largest employer. Recently, the EEOC posted how Danny of Jackson, LLC paid more than $3.3 million in EEOC race discrimination case. Yet, when the Census Bureau, a federal agency, paid $15 million to settle a lawsuit involving roughly 450,000 African Americans and Latinos, the EEOC posted zilch to its newsroom site. The Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation (No FEAR) Act of 2002, requires that Federal agencies be accountable for violations of antidiscrimination and whistleblower protection laws. Instead, the EEOC undermines the Act. The EEOC wraps federal agencies and officials in a veil of anonymity and thereby, fuels discrimination in the federal workplace.

The EEOC Fails to Refer Cases to the Office of Special Counsel for Disciplinary Action.

In 1988, the EEOC created a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). Presently, paragraph one of the MOU states: "the EEOC shall refer to the OSC enforcement action cases in which the EEOC finds that an agency or an officer or employee thereof has discriminated against any employee or applicant for employment." The Coalition For Change, Inc. leaders spoke with EEOC's Carlton Hadden (Director-Office of Federal Operations), about the enforcement agency's failure to use the MOU's referral disciplinary feature. During the 6th Annual Whistleblower Summit, Director Hadden said: "the EEOC does not have the authority to discipline." However, Hadden said the EEOC has the authority to refer cases to the OSC for potential employee disciplinary action. The C4C made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) inquiry to the OSC and the EEOC to learn how often the EEOC followed through with referring proven discrimination cases to the OSC for disciplinary action. The EEOC replied that over a ten year period, it referred "0" cases to OSC for disciplinary action. Similarly, the OSC replied that it had received "0" referrals from the EEOC from the period FY 2014 through FY 2017.

The EEOC Unfairly Subjects Its Workforce To Hearing Adjudicators Under Its Fiscal Control.

Federal employees in the Executive Branch can ask for an EEOC Administrative Judge to adjudicate discrimination claims against their employer. But, what if your employer is the EEOC? According to EEOC's website: "EEOC maintains interagency agreements for adjudicators at other agencies to handle the hearing requests of EEOC employees." EEOC says: it maintains the benefit of independent administrative judges from outside of the respondent agency to preside over hearings. The public statement on the EEOC's website; however, sorely conflicts with the EEOC's actual practice. The EEOC's internal handbook (p. 15) states: Contract Administrative Judges conduct all hearings for EEOC employees and applicants for employment. Elizabeth Bullock, a former EEOC administrative judge who presided over employee hearings from 1999 to 2007; and who later won a retaliation complaint against the EEOC, said: "Contract judges are financially incentivized to rule in favor of EEOC. If the contract attorney wants a permanent relationship with the EEOC, he or she will do what the enforcement agency wants it to do regardless of the case merits."

Given the serious concerns many have reported about the EEOC, the Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C) recently launched the EXPOSEEEOC campaign. The C4C invites federal employees and applicants for federal employment with legitimate concerns - about the practices of the EEOC's Administrative Judges and other EEOC officials - to visit the link https://www.exposeeeoc.com/ and to share their experiences. Dr. Martin Luther King once stated: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that." It is C4C's hope by shining light on the darkness; "we the people" can hold the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accountable for carrying out its enforcement duties in a fair, timely, and effective manner.

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Tanya Ward Jordan is the author of 17 STEPS: A Federal Employee's Guide For Tackling Workplace Discrimination. She serves as President and Founder of the Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C). C4C is an proactive non-profit self-help organization (more...)

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