By Meghan Droste, June 17, 2020

No matter where you live, there likely have been protests in or near your city or town in the past two weeks addressing ongoing issues with policing and racial justice. In DC, we have seen large numbers of people brave the current health risks to stand together in support of Black lives. In my opinion, it has been profoundly moving to see such a call to action, even in this uncertain time.

While I won’t use this space to engage in a discussion of these pressing issues, it is important to recognize that race discrimination continues be an issue in the workplace, including in the Federal government. Here are just a few of the decisions from the past two years finding evidence of race discrimination:

Glenna D. v. Department of the Air Force, EEOC App. No. 0720180026 (June 6, 2019): The complainant, who is Black, was the only employee assigned to a lead position at a lower grade (GS-12 instead of GS-13) “and not coincidentally, [was] also the only employee who was not Caucasian.” The Commission upheld the administrative judge’s finding that the agency discriminated against the complainant on the basis of race.

Sol W. v. Department of Defense, EEOC App. No. 0720180018 (August 15, 2018): The agency removed the complainant, who is Black, during his probationary period after he reported misconduct by a white coworker. The Commission reversed the agency’s rejection of the administrative judge’s finding of race discrimination.

Tona C. v. Department of Veterans Affairs, EEOC App. No. 0120151847 (April 4, 2018): The complainant’s supervisor repeatedly referred to the complainant and other Black employees as “ninjas,” telling the complainant, “Ninjas is a term I use for [n-word] who do not deserve a desk job.  A ninja is supposed to be pushing brooms and cleaning toilets.”  The Commission reversed the administrative judge’s grant of summary judgment in the agency’s favor.

Minnie M. v. Department of Veterans Affairs, EEOC App. No. 0120140003 (March 20, 2018): The agency selected three white employees to remain on a more prestigious team while reassigning all of the Black and Asian employees to a less prestigious team. The Commission reversed the administrative judge’s summary judgment, finding there was enough evidence to proceed to a hearing.

Elmer C. v. Department of Transportation, EEOC App. No. 0120150721 (February 15, 2018): The complainant learned during the EEO process that a memo ranking candidates for a position he applied to included the notation “black” next to his name, with no other similar notations for any other candidates.  The Commission found the administrative judge improperly failed to consider this evidence of racial bias when issuing a decision in the agency’s favor without a hearing.

Because of the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and, I imagine, in part because there are still complaints like the above, the Commission issued a resolution on June 9, 2020 confirming that it “cannot be silent about things that matter” and stating clearly that “Black lives matter.”  The Commission also resolved to “redouble [its] efforts to address institutionalized racism, advance justice, and foster equality of opportunity in the workplace.”  I encourage you all to read the full resolution, which is available here. Droste@FELTG.com

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