Federal job protections planted seeds for civil rights movement

By The Office of Scaringi Law posted in Employment Law on Thursday, April 9, 2015.

On the heels of the 50th anniversary of the history-making civil rights march in Selma, Ala., it's a good time to look back at how anti-discrimination employment protections evolved.

You might think that anti-discriminatory protections afforded to today's federal civilian employees grew out of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Actually, it was the other way around.

Executive Order 8802, issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 25, 1941, helped spawn the movement for equal employment opportunity among federal employees, which would later extend to all U.S. workers.

The roots of the workplace equality we now take for granted grew out of the extraordinary military production goals that our federal government would need to meet as America was drawn into World War II.

First shots against employment discrimination

Roosevelt's order mandated that federal agencies involved with "defense production" needed to oversee their workforce "without discrimination because of race, creed, color or national origin."

More than 70 years ago, that mandate amounted to a bold, new initiative. Today, the U.S. government's aggressive anti-discrimination policies are known and referred to as the "Federal Sector EEO" process and protections.

Today's Federal Sector non-discrimination laws protect a much broader range of federal employees from discrimination on the bases of:

· Race or color.

· National origin.

· Gender (including pregnancy, equal pay and sexual harassment).

· Disability.

· Age.

· Religion.

· Harassment based on being in any of these protected classes.

· Retaliation for engaging in a "protected activity" (protesting or complaining about discrimination, for example).

· Genetic information.

The federal government enacted the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) to prohibit genetic discrimination in employment. Taking effect on Nov. 21, 2009, the law was designed to prevent the use of genetic information, such as family medical history, serving as a basis for employment decisions.

Clearly, those first shots fired against employment discrimination by a commander-in-chief president eyeing America's entry into World War II have blossomed into a broad array of freedoms for Americans from all walks of life to seek federal employment on an equal footing.

Giving EEO enforcement teeth

Any ban on employment discrimination is only as good as the enforcement apparatus and due-process procedures that back it up. Federal employees can take advantage of strong legal remedies should a federal manager violate their EEO rights, breaching the many federal principals and protections against workplace discrimination.

Focusing my 29-year law career at Scaringi Law on civil litigation, employment law and unemployment compensation, I've represented many federal employees who have faced discrimination. But it is up to you to stand up and assert your rights in order to make these federal EEO protections and principles work for you.

In my next article, we'll look at the process behind the enforcement of EEO protections. It begins with an informal complaint, followed by a formal complaint, and then a hearing or even a lawsuit, should the employee remain unsatisfied with the outcome of the informal or formal stages of the process.

Above all, it's a process that a federal employee should not enter into alone. Retain a well-experienced attorney with a strong working knowledge of the federal system and all aspects of employment law who will ably represent your interests and protect your federal career.

I invite you to call me with your federal employment EEO issue or case. Together, we can protect your rights and your federal career.

To learn more about how Scaringi Law can help you, call us toll-free at 877-LAW-2555 or email us at info@scaringilaw.com.

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