HOW EEOC PROTECTS FORMER EMPLOYEES
A former employee has 45 days after s/he leaves an agency to file a complaint over some discriminatory treatment. That can be extended if the employee only learned of the discrimination after the 45th day. But what about the employee who left six months or a year ago? Does the EEOC filing deadline rules bar them from filing? The Commission issued a decision last December that spells out the circumstance under which a former fed can file an EEO complaint against a previous agency employer. Bryan v. Berryhill, SSA, EEOC No. 0120172731. In this case, the agency failed to comply with an EEO settlement requiring it to correct certain information in his personnel file.
When a prospective employer asked for a recommendation, the agency sent out the uncorrected information, rendering the former employee uncompetitive for the job. The former employee filed an EEO complaint claiming that management provided the negative reference because of his former EEO complaint. The agency refused to process his EEO retaliation complaint, but when the matter got to EEOC it reversed the agency. It wrote, “…a former employee may state a viable retaliation claim for protected activity that arose from his or her employment with an agency even if the disputed agency action occurred after the termination of the employment relationship.”
The EEOC ordered the agency to investigate the complaint, which could lead to the original settlement being overturned, the employee being reinstated with a ton of back pay, compensable damages, etc. This is a good case for union reps to start with if approached by a former employee who claims the agency mistreated him/her and the likely reason is discrimination.