Federal employees who complain of discrimination must go through a unique process in order to assert their rights. Within 45 days of the discriminatory action, they must initiate counseling with the agency’s EEO office. It is very important not to miss this deadline, or your claims may be too late. After meeting with an EEO counselor, you will be given the right to file a formal complaint of discrimination. Upon filing your formal complaint, the agency has 180 days to conduct an investigation into your claims. What happens next?
When your agency sends you the Report of Investigation, it should also send you your notice of rights. This notice that comes with the Report of Investigation will identify the three options available moving forward and ask that you check the box next to the option you choose. It is critical that read the notice carefully and meet all deadlines.
What options are available to me after receiving a Report of Investigation?
You have three options moving forward:
First, you may choose to have your case heard by an Administrative Judge. If you choose this option, your case will be sent to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or the EEOC. An Administrative Judge in the Regional Office close to where you worked will be randomly selected to hear your case. Your case will begin with an order from that judge scheduling your case for an initial scheduling conference, at which time many procedural and substantive matters will be discussed. The Administrative Judge serves as judge and jury for your case.
Second, you may choose to request a Final Agency Decision, known as a FAD, and file your case in US District Court. If you choose this option, your case will be returned to the agency which will then issue its own decision whether it violated your rights. The Final Agency Decision is required to be delivered to you within 60-days. Once you receive it, you then will have 90-days to file your lawsuit in US District Court and you will have the opportunity to have your case decided by a jury.
Third, you may choose to request a FAD, and then file an appeal of that decision to the EEOC Office of Federal Operations, or the OFO. If you choose this option, you are required to file your notice of appeal to the OFO within 30 days from receipt of the FAD. After you file your notice of appeal, you will have an additional 30 days to submit a brief explaining why you should win your case. The Commission will examine the record and the briefs submitted by you and the agency in reaching its decision.
Choosing the best option for your case is critical. With decades of experience in the field of federal employment law, the lawyers of Alan Lescht and Associates, P.C. have successfully guided our clients to make the right choice for their case and represented federal employees in US District Court, before Administrative Judges, and before the OFO.