No FEAR Act

The Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act (No FEAR Act), signed by President George W. Bush on May 15, 2002, is intended to notify Federal employees of their rights under discrimination and whistle blower laws, and reduce the incidence of workplace discrimination within the Federal government by making agencies and departments more accountable.

The Act requires Federal agencies to be accountable for violations of antidiscrimination and whistle blower protection laws, in part by requiring that each Federal agency post quarterly on its public Website, certain statistical data relating to Federal sector equal employment opportunity complaints filed with each agency. Further, the No FEAR Act governs the process of reimbursements to the Treasury Department's judgment fund by agencies, from their budgets, for judgments against agencies and settlements for discrimination in the workplace.

The Act also requires this agency to provide this notice to Federal employees, former Federal employees and applicants for Federal employment to inform you of the rights and protections available to you under Federal antidiscrimination, whistle blower protection and retaliation laws. 

Antidiscrimination Laws

A Federal agency cannot discriminate against an employee or applicant with respect to the terms, conditions or privileges of employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status or political affiliation. Discrimination on these bases is prohibited by one or more of the following statutes: 5 USC 2302(b) (1), 29 USC 206(d), 29 USC 631, 29 USC 633a, 29 USC 791 and 42 USC 2000e-16. If you believe that you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin or disability, you must contact an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) counselor within 45 calendar days of the alleged discriminatory action, or, in the case of a personnel action, within 45 calendar days of the effective date of the action, before you can file a formal complaint of discrimination with your agency. See, e.g., 29 CFR § 1614.

If you believe that you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination on the basis of age, you must either contact an EEO counselor as noted above or give notice of intent to sue to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of he alleged discriminatory action. If you are alleging discrimination based on marital status or political affiliation, you may file a written complaint with the US Office of Special Counsel (OSC) (see contact information below). In the alternative (or in some cases, in addition), you may pursue a discrimination complaint by filing a grievance through your agency's administrative or negotiated grievance procedures, if such procedures apply and are available.

Whistle Blower Protection Laws

A Federal employee with authority to take, direct others to take, recommend or approve any personnel action must not use that authority to take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take, a personnel action against an employee or applicant because of disclosure of information by that individual that is reasonably believed to evidence violations of law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, unless disclosure of such information is specifically prohibited by law and such information is specifically required by Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs.

Retaliation against an employee or applicant for making a protected disclosure is prohibited by 5 USC 2302(b)(8). If you believe that you have been the victim of whistle blower retaliation, you may file a written complaint (Form OSC-11) with the US Office of Special Counsel at 1730 M Street NW, Suite 218, Washington, DC 20036-4505 or online through the OSC web site --https://www.osc.gov

Retaliation for Engaging in Protected Activity

A Federal agency cannot retaliate against an employee or applicant because that individual exercises his or her rights under any of the Federal antidiscrimination or whistle blower protections laws listed above. If you believe that you are the victim of retaliation for engaging in protected activity, you must follow, as appropriate, the procedures described in the Antidiscrimination Laws and Whistle blower Protection Laws sections or, if applicable, the administrative or negotiated grievance procedures in order to pursue any legal remedy.

Disciplinary Actions

Under the existing laws, each agency retains the right, where appropriate, to discipline a Federal employee who has engaged in discriminatory or retaliatory conduct, up to and including removal. If OSC has initiated an investigation under 5 USC 1214; however, according to 5 USC 1214(f), agencies must seek approval from the Special Counsel to discipline employees for, among other activities, engaging in prohibited retaliation. Nothing in the No FEAR Act alters existing laws or permits an agency to take unfounded disciplinary action against a Federal employee or to violate the procedural rights of a Federal employee who has been accused of discrimination.

Additional Information

For further information regarding the No FEAR Act regulations, refer to 5 CFR 724, as well as the appropriate offices within your agency (e.g., Center for Equal Employment Opportunity, Center for Human Capital Management Services, or Office of General Counsel). OPM's specific antidiscrimination policies relating to equal employment opportunity and prohibited personnel practices have been physically and electronically posted throughout OPM. Additional information regarding Federal antidiscrimination, whistle blower protection and retaliation laws can be found at the EEOC web site and the OSC web site.

Existing Rights Unchanged

Pursuant to section 205 of the No FEAR Act, neither the Act nor this notice creates, expands or reduces any rights otherwise available to any employee, former employee or applicant under the laws of the United States, including the provisions of law specified in 5 USC 2302(d).

Section 203 of the No FEAR Act specifically requires, not later than 180 days after the end of each fiscal year, each Federal agency to submit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Committee on Governmental Affairs of the Senate, the Committee on Government Reform of the House of Representatives, each committee of Congress with jurisdiction relating to the agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Attorney General an annual report with specific information relating to each agency's EEO complaints activity.

 

Last Updated: 4/6/18