EEOC report paints an Uncle Sam all too human
It would be nice to think of Uncle Sam as an employer above reproach, one who does not stoop to common human frailties such as revenge and retribution.
Retaliation is one of those weaknesses. It’s not unusual for federal whistleblowers to feel the retaliatory sting of managers after wrongdoing has been exposed. Reprisals against whistleblowers were on glaring and shameful display during the recent scandal over the coverup of long wait times for service at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities.
Now comes informative tidbits from an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) report released last week.
Of the 15,837 complaints alleging federal employment discrimination in fiscal year 2012, almost half, 7,457, involved allegations of reprisal/retaliation. That’s by far the largest category, according to EEOC. Allegations of discrimination based on age and against African Americans followed, with 4,915 and 4,042 respectively.
Reprisal/retaliation allegations are filed by employees who believe they have been punished by supervisors after “opposing an agency’s discriminatory policy or something of that nature,” said Jamie Price, an assistant EEOC director.
“Because they participated in that process, the EEO process, or opposed some type of illegal discrimination or action by the agency, the agency then took an employment action against them,” Price said. Examples of employment actions are transfers, promotion denials and terminations. The report does not indicate the number of allegations that were substantiated.
While complaints of reprisals against federal employees are common, reports of disciplinary actions against bosses who engage in retaliation are rare. EEOC does not track that information.
The good news is the number of allegations in complaints to EEOC is going down. Fiscal year 2012 recorded the lowest number of allegations since 2008 in the categories of reprisal/retaliation and age. Complaints regarding discrimination against African Americans were at the lowest point since 2010.