Washington - The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for violating the Open Meetings Act, also known as the Government in the Sunshine Act. Under the law, meetings and their agendas must be publicly announced one week in advance via a recorded telephone announcement and a posted notice on the EEOC bulletin board. The agency also normally posts announcements on its Web site.
On March 23, the EEOC announced its intentions to hold a meeting the following day, March 24. Over the objections of one of its own commissioners, the EEOC then proceeded to discuss and approve its regulatory agenda for spring 2005 and conducted other business.
Because of the short notice provided to the public, AFGE officers and members employed by the EEOC as well as those who may have had cases pending before the Commission were deprived of their right to attend the meeting.
"We are very concerned that this attempted end-run around the public's right to know represents a pattern at the agency," says AFGE National President John Gage. "The EEOC is considering major changes in the way it services the public and the interests of federal employee complainants. As stewards of good government, we feel the right to fair treatment in the workplace should be preserved for all Americans." AFGE is demanding that the Commission adhere to the letter of the law and conduct its business "in the Sunshine" as required.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.