The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s mission is to protect workers from workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. But it is not practicing what it preaches when it comes to its own workforce.
Despite a federal judge’s ruling in August that largely invalidated President Trump’s three illegal anti-worker executive orders, the EEOC notified our union that it is on a fast track to implement several portions of the orders before the end of the year.
“Ironically, EEOC has cherry-picked sections that contradict its public positions,” said Gabrielle Martin, president of AFGE Council 216, the National Council of EEOC Locals.
New disciplinary policy
EEOC is moving ahead full throttle with a harsh new disciplinary policy, for example. The agency’s notice to the union refers to troubling sections of the executive orders that condone disparate treatment, stating in part: “…conduct that justifies discipline of one employee at one time does not necessarily justify similar discipline of a different employee at a different time.”
“This is the opposite of the advice EEOC provides to employers,” Martin said. “In fact, EEOC investigates employers for disparate discipline and files cases in court on that basis.”
EEOC also cites a section of the executive orders to declare that “deciding officials should not be required to use progressive discipline.”
Limits on official time
In addition, agency management cited provisions of the executive order that puts further limits on the use of official time, which enables union representatives to meet with employees and managers during the workday to address and resolve workplace issues. It plans to discipline union officers if the agency believes the time was not used properly.
Martin said she is baffled by the agency’s rush to shove through the executive orders, given the judge’s decision, the Office of Personnel Management’s notice to roll back implementation, and the Department of Justice’s position on appeal that implementation would be gradual and would not immediately alter the status quo.
The EOs themselves state that they shall not abrogate a collective bargaining agreement that is in effect. AFGE’s negotiated contract with EEOC won’t expire until late next year.
“It is unacceptable for EEOC to pretend that it cares for workers and workplace rights as it calls itself the ‘model employer’ while targeting its own,” Martin added.