Putting FEAR into Federal EEO Programs


Be afraid . . . be very afraid . . .there is a new law referred to as the Notification and Federal Employee Anti-discrimination and Rehabilitation Act of 2002 (NO FEAR) Public law 107-174 that will have significant impact on federal agencies and their Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) programs. In short, the act is designed to:
1) require that federal agencies be accountable for violations of anti-discrimination and whistleblower protection laws and
2) require that each federal agency post quarterly on its public web site, certain statistical data relating to its EEO complaint filings.


The Act imposes several new requirements upon federal agencies including new requirements on processing of EEO claims. There are nine main provisions of the law:
1) A reimbursement requirement,
2) A notification requirement,
3) A reporting requirement,
4) Issuance of rules and guidelines by the President’s designee,
5) Clarification of remedies,
6) Studies by the General Accounting Office,
7) Posting of data by federal agencies,
8) Posting of data by the EEOC, and
9) Issuance of rules by EEOC.


Each provision is described in brief below.


1) Reimbursement requirement – Federal agencies that cause payments to be made from the judgment fund of the United States as a result of discriminatory conduct are required to reimburse the fund from that agency’s operating expenses.


2) Notification requirement – Federal agencies must provide written notification of rights and protections available to federal employees. This information must be posted on the agency’s internet site and the agency must provide training to its employees about these rights and protections.


3) Reporting requirement – Each federal agency shall submit to the Speaker of the House of representatives, the president pro tempore of the Senate, the Committee on Governmental Affairs of the Senate, the Committee on Government reform of the House of representatives, each committee of Congress with jurisdiction relating to the agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Attorney General an annual report which shall include, among other things:


a) the number of cases arising under each of the respective provisions of law in which discrimination on the part of such agency was alleged;
b) the status or disposition of such cases;
c) the amount of money the agency was required to reimburse to the judgment fund;
d) the number of employees disciplined for discrimination, retaliation, harassment, or any other infraction of federal law covered by this act;
e) a detailed description of the policy implemented by that agency relating to disciplinary actions and the number of employees disciplined in accordance with such policy;
f) an analysis of the information collected; and
g) any adjustment made to an agency’s budget to comply with the requirement of reimbursement to the judgment fund.


4) Issuance of rules and guidelines by the President’s designee – The President of the United States (or designee) shall issue rules to carry out this title, rules to require a study of best practices, and advisory guidelines incorporating best practices.


5) Clarification of remedies – Nothing in this title shall prevent any federal employee from exercising any other right they may have under the laws of the United States.


6) Studies by the General Accounting Office – The General Accounting Office shall conduct studies and issue a report relating to:
a) the effects of eliminating the requirement that Federal employees aggrieved by violations of federal discrimination laws exhaust administrative remedies before filing complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission;
b) the methods that could be used for, and the extent of any administrative burden that would be imposed on, the Department of Justice to ascertain the personnel and administrative costs incurred in defending each case arising from discrimination proceedings;
c) the effects of this act on the operations of federal agencies and the effects of the Contracts Disputes Act of 1978 on the operations of Federal agencies; and
d) the extent of any administrative and personnel costs incurred by the department of the Treasury to account for payments made as a result of this Act and the Contracts Disputes Act.


7) Posting of data by federal agencies – Each Federal agency shall post on its public Web site summary statistical data relating to equal employment opportunity complaints filed with such agency.


8) Posting of data by the EEOC – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shall post on its public Web site summary statistical data relating to hearings requested before an administrative judge and appeals from final agency actions filed with the Commission.


9) Issuance of rules by EEOC – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shall issue any rules necessary to carry out this title.


It remains to be seen what effect, if any, this legislation will have on federal discrimination complaints. You can be sure that advocacy groups and federal agencies alike will be watching.

                        author

Andrew Colsky

Andrew Colsky mediates employment disputes including complex multi-party disputes. He is also an ADR program/system designer who served as an integral part of developing the world's largest employment mediation program at the U.S. Postal Service. MORE >

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