EEOC says federal agency engaged in reprisal. Complainant filed Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints alleging hostile work environment based on disability, race, and reprisal. The reprisal claim was based on prior EEO activity when he contacted an EEO Counselor and filed a formal complaint regarding his reasonable accommodation needs. At the conclusion of the initial investigation, the Agency combined the three complaints in to one and issued a final decision finding that Complainant had not been subjected to discrimination or harassment and dismissing a claim that the Agency denied Complainant’s request for official time to speak with an EEO Counselor. Complainant appealed.

On appeal, the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO) looked at whether Complainant had been denied official time to speak with a counselor. The OFO held that although the Agency did not need to investigate the claim to determine whether the denial was discriminatory, it did need to determine whether the denial was justified. The OFO further held that the Agency had engaged in per se reprisal when a manager stated that the Complainant’s “primary duty is not to file EEO complaints…” which discourages participation in the EEO process.

Sang G. v. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, EEOC Appeal No. 0120170604 (Mar. 20, 2019)

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