Q & A Session: Fighting Non-discrimination Based Unfair Treatment



How can you fight unfair treatment when it is not discrimination based?


You could raise the issue with your supervisor. If your supervisor’s actions are what you find to be unfair, your agency’s grievance process may cover a grievance of unfair treatment. You would need to review your agency’s grievance procedures to see if your specific matter is covered.

Also, depending on the unfair treatment, you could file a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) if it involves a violation of the Civil Service Reform Act (prohibited personnel practices), the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act, or the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). For instance, OSC reviews prohibited personnel practices, including allegations that an agency official: (1) discriminated against an employee or applicant based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability (or handicapping condition), marital status, or political affiliation; (2) requested or considered a recommendation based on political connections or influence; (3) coerced political activity; (4) obstructed anyone from competing for employment; (5) influenced anyone to withdraw from competition in order to improve or injure the employment prospects of any person; (6) gave an unauthorized advantage in order to improve or injure the employment prospects of any person; (7) engaged in nepotism; (8) retaliated against an employee for whistleblowing; (9) took, failed to take, or threatened to take a personnel action because an employee engaged in any of the four protected activity (filed a complaint, grievance or appeal; testified for or helped someone else with one of these activities; cooperated with or disclosed information to the Special Counsel or an Inspector General; or,  refused to obey an order that would require the employee to violate a law); (10) discriminated due to conduct that does not adversely affect job performance (sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination); (11) took or failed to take, recommended, or approved a personnel action if the official knows that doing so would violate a veterans’ preference requirement; (12) took or failed to take a personnel action if doing so would violate a law, rule or regulation implementing or directly concerning the merit system principles; and (13) imposed a nondisclosure agreement that doesn’t allow whistleblowing. Visit osc.gov. for more information on filing a complaint.

This response is written by Maria N. Coleman, supervisory attorney of Shaw Bransford & Roth P.C., a federal employment law firm.

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