Discrimination allegations on the rise, report shows

Federal job discrimination complaints increased nearly 4 percent in fiscal 2010 over the previous year, and payments to employees found to have experienced discrimination grew as well, according to a new report.

In its annual report on the federal workforce, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that 16,480 government employees filed 17,583 discrimination complaints in fiscal 2010, up 3.8 percent from fiscal 2009. Retaliation was the most common allegation, up 2.7 percent over the previous year, followed by age and race discrimination, both up 5.1 percent, according to the report.

"The federal government should be a model workplace," said Dexter Brooks, director of EEOC's federal sector programs. "We are concerned that retaliation is the most common basis of discrimination alleged and we caution all federal agencies to make sure that reprisals do not become the usual response to complaints of discrimination."

Federal agencies, not EEOC, are responsible for addressing discrimination complaints filed against them. Employees can opt to participate in pre-complaint counseling or alternative dispute resolution programs before registering a formal complaint. According to the report, 56.6 percent of such counseling incidents led to a settlement or withdrawal from the complaint process. Findings of discrimination increased from 2.98 percent to 3.3 percent, and agencies paid out $46.9 million to complainants in fiscal 2010, up 12 percent from $41.7 million in the previous year.

The average processing time for conducting investigations dropped from 185 days in fiscal to 181 days in fiscal 2010. The average time for closing complaints, however, increased from 344 days to 360 days, while the average processing time for a hearing jumped from 294 days to 332 days.

Of the Cabinet-level and large federal agencies, the U.S. Postal Service was a significant contributor to the total number of discrimination complaints and investigations in fiscal 2010, the report found. Postal employees make up 18.6 percent of the federal workforce, but the agency accounted for 40.2 percent of counseling incidents, 31.2 percent of all complaints filed and 28.9 percent of completed investigations. USPS had the highest counseling and alternative dispute resolution participation rates among large agencies. The Postal Service completed 99 percent of investigations in a timely manner, however.

The Government Printing Office had the highest counseling and complainant rates of all medium-size agencies, at 7.7 percent and 1.74 percent, respectively. According to GPO spokesman Gary Somerset, four complaints were filed in the second quarter of fiscal 2011, compared to 14 during the same period last year.

"GPO has an ongoing effort to ensure that employment discrimination does not take place within the agency, and that all employees are aware of their right to work in a discriminatory and harassment-free work environment," Somerset said. "[Public Printer Bill Boarman] has instructed GPO's [Equal Employment Opportunity] Office to develop programs, committees, focus groups and counseling services to train managers and address EEO issues."

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said agencies still have some work to do to address discrimination complaints.

"Generally, EEO complaints are filed when employees believe the merit system has let them down or when they feel they are being unfairly targeted by managers," Kelley said. "NTEU believes there is significant room for improvement in how such systems are implemented by managers."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.