EEOC finds federal agency’s settlement agreement with employee invalid. Believing she had been subjected to discrimination, complainant began the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint process. Complainant and the Agency entered in to a settlement agreement to resolve the matter which provided, in part, that Facilities Management will set a weekly meeting with Complainant within a set time frame. After the end of the time frame, Complainant sent a letter to the Agency alleging that the Agency was in breach of this term. In its final decision, the Agency concluded that it did not breach the agreement stating that although no meeting was scheduled its failure to do so was reasonable because the Settlement Agreement was executed three workdays prior.

On appeal, the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO) held that although the Agency did not breach the Agreement, the agreement was invalid under the ADEA. Under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, Complainants must be counseled that the complainant is waiving her claims under the ADEA, to consult with an attorney, and given a reasonable amount of time to consider the settlement. Because none of these were provided to the Complainant, the OFO held the settlement agreement was not valid and reinstated Complainant’s ADEA claim.

Fiona H. v. Dep’t of the Treasury, EEOC Appeal No. 2019002760 (Aug. 18, 2020)