Q & A Session – Denied Promotion


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


I work for a federal agency within a branch that is having many personnel issues. Since I have been in this branch, all of the females who have worked on this particular team have always been assigned loads which are heavier than the male associates’. The female associates are always asked to plan the Christmas and retirement parties (which I believe is discriminative), despite the heavier loads.

When I first came to the department, there was a GS-11 female who had the majority of all of the complex tasks. When I was brought in as a GS-12, I was made her backup. She left a few months after I came because she was upset by the fact that she was passed over for the promotion I received. She had the knowledge and skills to receive the promotion, but was ultimately looked over. Months later, a male was hired to replace her. He came on as a GS-11, but about two weeks later was promoted to a GS-12 because we had a GS-12 position open. Since the GS-12 guy has been on the team, he has never been assigned a GS-12 workload.

Due to my frustrations and my increasingly overwhelming workload, I feel burned out and abused and have voiced my concerns to my supervisor. I feel he has grown intolerant of me and, as a result, passed me over for a promotion I was well qualified for. What should I do?


If you believe you are being treated poorly because of your gender, your complaint, at least in theory, can be handled in the EEO system. Keep in mind that ultimately you must prove gender discrimination, which may be difficult. Fewer than 3% of EEOC complaints filed in federal agencies result in a finding of discrimination. Many more, however, are settled, and yours could be as well. Mediation, which can be offered as part of the EEO process, might get you your reassignment.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

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About Author

Debra Roth

Debra L. Roth is a partner at the law firm Shaw Bransford & Roth, a federal employment law firm in Washington, D.C. She is general counsel to the Senior Executives Association and the Federal Managers Association, host of the “FEDtalk” program on Federal News Radio, and a regular contributor to Federal News Radio’s “Federal Drive” morning show. Email your legal questions to lawyer@federaltimes.com.

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