In January 2019, HR-135 was reintroduced and passed the House of Representatives. The bill is called the Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2019, and it amends and strengthens the No FEAR Act of 2002. In its current form, the bill has a few interesting provisions:
- Agencies have to report to EEOC whether disciplinary action has been initiated against a federal employee as a result of the finding of discrimination (either a final action or appellate decision)
- The agency must include a notation of the adverse action and the reason for the action in the employee’s personnel record after all appeals have been exhausted.
- The EEO program must not be under the control, either structurally or practically of a Human Capital or General Counsel office.
- An agency’s Human Capital or General Counsel office is not prohibited from providing advice of counsel to Federal agency personnel on the processing and resolution of a complaint, including providing legal representation to a Federal agency in any proceeding.
- The head of each Federal agency’s Equal Employment Opportunity Program shall report directly to the head of the agency.
Provision 4 seems to be at odds with EEOC’s guidance MD-110 regarding the separation of EEO complaint program and agency’s defensive function. However, provisions 3 and 5 would strengthen EEOC’s guidance.
We are keeping an eye on the bill and will send an update if and when it passes the Senate.
The text of the bill is here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/135/text