Federal law prohibits the Federal Government from discriminating against you with respect to your compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), or disability. Federal law also protects you from retaliation if you oppose employment discrimination, file a complaint of discrimination, or participate in the EEO complaint process (even if the complaint is not yours).
The process for filing and prosecuting EEO complaints in the federal sector differs sharply from the private sector. If you are a federal employee or job applicant and you believe that a federal agency has discriminated against you, you have a right to file a complaint. The first step is to contact an EEO Counselor at the agency where you work or where you applied for a job. Generally, you must contact the EEO Counselor within 45 days from the day the discrimination occurred. If you do not settle the dispute during pre-complaint counseling, you can file a formal discrimination complaint against the agency with the agency’s EEO Office. Once you have filed a formal complaint, the agency will review the complaint and decide whether or not the case should be dismissed for a procedural reason. If the agency accepts the complaint, it will conduct an investigation. When the investigation is finished, the agency will issue a notice giving you two choices: either request a hearing before a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Administrative Judge or ask the agency to issue a decision as to whether the discrimination occurred.