Archive for Uncategorized – Page 2

EEO Investigations, Part 1 of 2: Keep the Agency Accountable for 180-day Investigations in EEO Cases

In EEO cases filed against federal government agencies, the EEOC allows for a 180-day investigation period starting from the date the complainant files his or her formal complaint of discrimination.  Specifically, the 180-day timeframe is set out in the EEOC’s Management Directive 110 (MD-110), which sets out policies, procedures, and guidance for federal sector discrimination complaints.  The MD-110 was recently revised, but still maintains the same 180-day timeframe in which to conduct the investigation into formal complaints of discrimination against federal agencies.

The MD-110 explains, “Agencies are responsible for conducting an appropriate investigation of complaints filed against them.”  This means that when a federal employee or applicant files a formal complaint of discrimination against a particular government agency, that agency is responsible for conducting and completing the investigation of the discrimination complaint.  Once the investigation has been completed, or once 180 days have passed since the complainant filed his or her formal discrimination complaint, the complainant then has the opportunity to request a hearing before an EEOC Administrative Judge.

The MD-110 obligates the responsible Agency to complete the investigation with 180 days of the formal complaint being filed.  The 180-day timeframe can be extended by up to 90 days if the complainant agrees to such an extension.  The 180-day timeframe can also be extended by up to an additional 180 days in the event the complainant files an amendment to his or her complaint during the investigation phase (see Part 2 for a discussion of EEO amendments).  If an Agency fails to meet its deadline to complete the investigation, once a hearing request is filed and an Administrative Judge is assigned to the case, the Judge can potentially order sanctions against the Agency for failing to timely complete the investigation.  Sanctions can range in severity, and in a number of cases, EEOC Administrative Judges and the EEOC itself have found the most severe form of sanction – a default judgment in the complainant’s favor – to be warranted against the Agency.

In an attempt to avoid potentially severe sanctions, agencies often will request that complainants agree to extend the investigative period.  While every case is different, in many circumstances, it does not benefit the complainant to agree to an extension.  When (1) the complainant does not agree to the investigation, (2) no amendment has been filed during the applicable time frame (see Part 2 for a discussion of EEO amendments), and (3) the Agency still does not complete the investigation within the allotted 180 days, the complainant may be able to make a motion for the EEOC Administrative Judge to impose sanctions against the Agency for the untimely investigation.

If you have questions about the federal sector EEO complaint process that you would like to address with one of our attorneys, please call the law firm of Bonney, Allenberg& O’Reilly, P.C., to schedule an initial consultation.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Turns 25

July 26, 2015 marked 25 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law.  The protections of the ADA apply to federal employees through the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was the model for the ADA.  The law prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified job applicants and employees based on their physical or mental disabilities.  Just as important, the law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals, so long as it will not result in an undue hardship to the employer.  Reasonable accommodations can come in many different forms, depending on the individual’s medical restrictions and job duties.

Disability issues in employment situations continue to be the source of an ever-changing area of law.  Passage of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) created a whole new world of opportunity for individuals facing challenges at work due to their medical conditions.  The ADAAA rejected a series of Supreme Court interpretations that had significantly restricted the protections of the ADA.  The ADAAA clarified and expanded the ADA’s definition of “disability” to widen the scope of coverage under both the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.  Because of the broadened definition of “disability,” the ADAAA allows for protection of a wide variety of physical and mental medical conditions that would not have otherwise received coverage by the law.

If you are a federal employee or applicant for federal employment and believe that you have suffered mistreatment or been denied reasonable accommodation based on a disability, please contact the law firm of Bonney, Allenberg, & O’Reilly, P.C., at (757) 460-3477, to request an initial consultation.