House Blocks Trump Administration from Curtailing Federal Workers’ Civil Rights

Categories: The Insider

At the urging of AFGE, House lawmakers approved a measure preventing the Trump administration from implementing a proposed rule that would make it harder for federal employees to successfully challenge workplace discrimination. 

An amendment to the fiscal 2021 minibus appropriations bill that passed the House July 31 would block the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from finalizing or implementing a proposed rule that would prevent federal employees who believe they have been discriminated against on the job from selecting a union member as their representative during the complaint process. 

“The administration’s proposal would overturn 48 years of legal precedent and make it much harder for federal employees to successfully challenge workplace discrimination,” AFGE President Everett Kelley said. “More than 11,000 people have submitted comments in opposition to the proposed rule, highlighting how critical this issue is to federal workers and their civil rights.” 

Under a 1972 law, a federal employee who believes he or she has been discriminated against on the job has the right to select a coworker to serve as his or her representative during the complaint process, and both the employee and representative are allowed “official time” during the workday to address the complaint. Official time is time provided under the law for federal employees to work with their labor representatives to address and resolve workplace disputes, grievances, and violations of labor law. 

However, a proposed rule first issued by the EEOC in December would overturn this long-established precedent and exclude union representatives from receiving official time to work on EEO complaints. The EEOC took the unusual step of reissuing the proposed rule for public comment in June after receiving thousands of comments opposing the rule during the first comment period. Over both comment period, AFGE members and our allies submitted over 11,000 comments opposing the rule.  

Kelley specifically thanked House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, and Congress members Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jamie Raskin, and Suzanne Bonamici for leading the push to include language in the appropriations bill blocking the administration’s proposal. 

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