Federal employee proves reprisal by agency employer. Complainant filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint alleging discrimination on the bases of race, sex, and reprisal for prior protected EEO activity. Complainant also alleged she was terminated from her position and she was subjected to a hostile work environment and sexual harassment in the form of unwelcome verbal and racist comments. At the conclusion of the investigation the Complainant requested a hearing in front of an Administrative Judge (AJ). Before the hearing the Complainant resigned, therefore the issues at the hearing were limited to the hostile work environment and sexual harassment claims. The AJ issued a final decision and order holding that Complainant had established a hostile work environment. The Agency issued a final order rejecting the AJ’s finding, rejected the relief order from the AJ, and appealed.

On appeal, the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO) found that the Agency’s practice of issuing cease and desist letters in response to reports of harassment were reasonably likely to deter people from engaging in the EEO process. Therefore the Complainant had properly established her reprisal claim. The OFO further said that such letters gives the appearance that the Complainant complaining of ongoing harassment was just as culpable as her harasser. It determined that the relief the AJ ordered was appropriate.

Alesia P. v. Dep’t of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. 2020001024 (June 14, 2021)  https://www.eeoc.gov/sites/default/files/decisions/2021_08_31/2020001024.pdf

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