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What are your rights as a federal employee?

The laws that govern employer responsibility and work environments codify protection from abuses like discrimination and harassment. Businesses run by individuals and large corporations alike are required to abide by both state and federal laws restricting certain activities and requiring certain protections for the workers, and failure to abide by those rules can leave companies vulnerable to the risk of litigation.

Federal employees often work hard to obtain a position with the government. Federal work can lead to excellent job security and competitive benefits, but federal employment arrangements can leave people uncertain about what rights and protections they are meant to benefit from. Although there are federal regulations that protect those who work for the government, many people don’t fully understand their rights.

The law extends many protections to federal workers

Most federal employment laws specifically address issues in the private industry sector, but they also provide protections for federal workers. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects federal workers from discrimination related to race, color, religion, sex and national origin. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects workers from discrimination based on congenital or acquired medical conditions.

Federal workers shouldn’t have to worry about nepotism in the workplace, the use of medical or genetic records to unfairly preclude them from employment or retaliation if they engage in protected workplace activities. Like other employers, federal workers have the right to report safety violations, harassment and discrimination. They have protection if they act as whistleblowers and shouldn’t have to worry about losing their jobs for doing what is right. Federal employees benefit from protection against discrimination in many of the same ways that private sector workers do.

What happens after a violation of those rights?

Federal employees who know about their rights may still feel uncertain about how to make use of them. Federal workers enduring a violation of their rights can report prohibited personnel practices (PPPs) to the United States Office of Special Counsel. They will often bring in their own legal help to advocate for their rights during this process.

Seeking legal guidance and broadly “making sense” of the federal regulations that apply to different employment scenarios can help people determine their next steps after they’ve been treated unlawfully in the workplace.