Most of the time, when a person hears about discrimination in the workplace, it involves a private employee and their employer. However, discrimination does occur in so-called public workplaces, such as governmental agencies. Public employees have just as many rights (and sometimes more) to push back against discriminatory policy. If you are a public employee in South Carolina and you believe you have been mistreated, contact the law firm of Hitchcock & Potts to determine how you should proceed. Learn more about discrimination against government employees.
You Are Protected
The first thing that should be understood in this type of discrimination case is that public and federal employees are generally protected by the same anti-discrimination lawsuits as any other worker. This includes Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the rest of the proverbial battery of laws. All cover federal employees and protect them on the basis of race, sex, national origin, religion, and color. In addition, expanded federal regulations cover additional characteristics under their antidiscrimination protections, including sexual orientation, marital status, or political opinion.
In order for a private sector employee to seek redress against discrimination, they would contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and file a charge of discrimination, usually within 180 days to 1 year after the incident. The process then continues through the agency, which often involves an alternative dispute resolution or an attempt to settle the case with your employer. However, if such tactics do not lead to a resolution, then the EEOC will either take up your case or grant you leave to sue in state court. The process for federal and state employees is quite different, but many remain unaware of this.
Seeking EEO Help
The process is somewhat faster and more complex for federal employees, mostly because the laws are designed to be clearer, and time tends to be of the essence for federal agencies. A public sector worker, especially a federal employee, must contact their agency’s equal employment opportunity counselor within 45 days of the alleged discrimination. Then, they will generally be offered “EEO counseling” or the chance to settle the dispute with the relevant people within their workplace. This can be done either in face-to-face counseling or alternative dispute resolution like mediation.
If these methods of dispute resolution are not successful, you can file a formal complaint, which will then trigger an investigation from your specific agency’s EEO Office. The broader EEOC handles complaints from the general public, and the smaller EEO Offices work in-house, so to speak, for the federal agencies. The EEO Office will issue a final decision after their investigation has concluded, but it is important to remember that if you disagree with its conclusions, you do have the right to appeal to the EEOC or federal district court to request a hearing.
Can An Employment Discrimination Attorney Assist You?
Discrimination against government employees does happen, but it can be difficult to know when you are truly being discriminated against. And, if you work for a public agency, you may feel trapped when trying to figure out how best to deal with the issue. Speaking to an experienced South Carolina employment discrimination attorney can help answer your questions. Attorney Christopher A. Potts is happy to use his knowledge and experience toward a satisfactory outcome for you and yours. Contact the firm of Hitchcock & Potts today for personalized assistance.