How to Manage Through and After an EEO Complaint
Managers in today’s federal government perform an increasingly difficult job. With the strides that the government has made in recent years reducing inequality and discrimination in the workplace, the occurrence of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints has steadily risen.
For federal managers, fending off EEO complaints and effectively managing in their wake has become an expected part of the job, not an outlier. Whether complaints are valid or not they can remain in the system for months or even years until resolution. Any manager currently working in the federal government should have an effective plan on how to continue managing your office in the best manner possible after an EEO complaint has been filed.
The best way to prepare yourself for an EEO complaint in the future is to start effective documentation today. When there are actions taken by your employees that may not call for an immediate response but may warrant disciplinary action in the future, take note and put that in writing. If an employee is beginning to exhibit behavior that may require disciplinary action, take note and be sure to state the substantive reasons why. These notes will serve multiple purposes. In the event of an EEO complaint by the disciplined employee, having the notes written down can serve as an excellent refresher or method of jogging your memory so that you can more precisely recall the sequence of events that led you to discipline the employee. In addition, the presence of a paper trail and documentation will strengthen your case immensely in the event of an investigation.
Once an employee has filed an EEO complaint, it is absolutely crucial that you do not act in a retaliatory manner. In practice, this means treating the employee as though nothing was filed and not singling them out for any duties, assignments or harassments that could be perceived as retaliatory. Retaliation against an EEO complainant is a prohibited personnel practice by federal statute and will result in much more trouble for you than the initial EEO complaint would have. Post-complaint, it is also important that you prepare yourself for the possibility of an EEO administrative investigation. Along with the aforementioned documentation, you should begin to prepare for and administrative interview. The key in these interviews is to tell the truth, don’t “guess” at answers (you can say “I don’t recall”) and do not volunteer or venture details that are not asked for.
In addition to the steps that you can take on the job to prepare for managing through an EEO complaint, one of the best options of protection is a professional liability insurance policy with Federal Employee Defense Services (FEDS). The FEDS policy provides you with your own personal attorney to advise and defend your actions/inactions, if necessary. For only $145 a year for federal managers (after the agency reimbursement), FEDS is a vital component to your financial plan. To learn more, visit www.fedsprotection.com or call 866.955.FEDS today.
FEDS $1,000,000 policy is available for $290 per year. All federal managers are eligible for reimbursement up to half the cost of this insurance for a net premium of $145 annually. You can enroll over the phone M-F 8:30 am – 6pm at 866.955.FEDS or anytime at www.fedsprotection.com.
FEDS provides professional liability insurance for the entire federal management community. For information on your specific exposures, how professional liability insurance protects you, or how the FEDS program differs from other insurance programs, visit us at fedsprotection.com.
Posted in Manager Matters