Understanding Retaliation

Retaliation occurs far too often when federal employees engage in protected activity, such as filing an EEO complaint, or oppose discrimination in the workplace.

All anti-discrimination statutes applicable to federal employees, including Title VII, make retaliation unlawful, although it remains incredibly common and often ends up as a basis in EEO complaints.  

Proving Retaliation in the Workplace

To prove a retaliation claim at the EEOC, a federal employee must show that they engaged in protected activity or opposed discrimination in the workplace. The activity must be protected by an anti-discrimination statute – actions such as contacting an EEO Counselor, filing an informal or formal EEO complaint, participating in an agency investigation of an EEO complaint, or participating in any proceedings related to an EEO complaint. 

Title VII has an “opposition” clause which makes it illegal for agencies to retaliate if someone attempts to stop sexual harassment or reports a hostile work environment, etc.  

The next step in proving reprisal is showing that the responsible management official knew about your protected activity and then showing that there is some “causal nexus” between the protected activity and the adverse action at issue. This is often established through timing – in other words, showing that the adverse action occurred shortly after the management official learned of the protected activity. 

Reprisal and Retaliation Lawyers You Can Trust

The role of a retaliation lawyer can vary depending on the unique circumstances of your case and the stage of the EEO complaint process.

The Federal Practice Group is dedicated to helping employees assert their rights and seek compensation when they believe they have been subjected to workplace retaliation.

Schedule a consultation with our team to learn more. 

What Makes Us Different

From EEO complaints to adverse actions, our experienced federal employment attorneys ensure your entitlement to due process and legal representation every step of the way.

Represent government employees at all federal agencies, nationwide and overseas

Highly-skilled MSPB appeals attorneys with a proven track record

Notable success in EEO complaints and appeals

Frequently Asked Questions

Federal employees are protected from discrimination based on sex, gender, color, race, national origin, religion, age, and disability, and have the right to file an EEO complaint against their agency should they face discrimination. Federal employees also have the right to due process before being subjected to an adverse action  

Yes, federal employees can sue for discrimination, but first you must exhaust administrative remedies, which includes filing a formal complaint with your agency and letting 180 days pass. In many instances, federal employees elect to pursue their EEO complaints through the EEOC’s hearing process instead of filing a civil action. 

Federal employees must initiate contact with an EEO Counselor within 45 days of any act of discrimination. After an informal complaint stage, you will be issued a Notice of Right to File a formal complaint, which will permit you 15 days to do so.  

Federal employees do not have the right to sue for wrongful termination the way private sector employees do, but most federal employees have the right to appeal a removal to the MSPB, which will adjudicate whether the Agency can sustain any charges raised against you.  

Yes, most federal employees can file a complaint against their agency with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) if they are facing whistleblower retaliation. If OSC does not accept your complaint for investigation and prosecution, OSC will issue you an Individual Right of Action (IRA) notice giving you the right to pursue corrective action at the MSPB. Federal employees do not have the right to sue in court under the Whistleblower Protection Act.

Speak with Our Retaliation Lawyers Today