This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Reston Town Center that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement, and private sector employee matters.
On July 21, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a new anti-discrimination bill. The bill, referred to as the Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2015, H.R. 1557, enhances existing discrimination laws. The protections proposed by the bill largely focus on federal agency and supervisor accountability involving discrimination of federal employees in the workplace.
If the bill becomes law, it would require that each federal agency restructure its operations so that the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) program head reports directly to the agency head. Federal agencies would also be required to post notices on their agency’s website of any adverse findings of discrimination made against the agency for at least one year.
In addition, the new law would require an agency to notify the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding whether it has taken disciplinary action against an employee found to have engaged in discrimination or retaliation. The new law would further require that the EEOC refer any federal employees who are found guilty of committing discrimination or retaliation to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel for disciplinary action.
A finding of discrimination against a supervisor does not often result in disciplinary action against the supervisor. Therefore, these new reporting and disclosure requirements would likely motivate agencies to take more disciplinary action against supervisors.
Lastly, the new law would prohibit non-disclosure agreements that prevent a federal employee from disclosing wrongdoing involving whistleblower matters to Congress, an Inspector General, or the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Federal agencies typically insist on these types of non-disclosure clauses in their settlement agreements with federal employees. However, the new law would certainly end this practice.
Since the Act passed in the House 403-0, there is a strong likelihood that it will pass in the Senate and become law. It was received in the Senate on July 22, and has been referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
We represent employees in federal employment matters nationwide, as well as private and public sector employees in employment matters in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. If you need assistance with an employment law issue, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.
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