Fired workerThis is the next article in our series on whether federal employees can sue the U.S. government for wrongful termination. Our last article discussed what it means for a United States government employee to be illegally fired. It’s important to understand that the term “wrongful termination” is an umbrella phrase that deals with a large number of cases. In this article we will discuss the options a federal worker has in such a situation. We cannot stress enough the fact that you should call an employment law attorney immediately.

Federal workers face a stricter process than do those who worked in the private sector. If one believes they were unlawfully fired then the first step is to contact an EEO counselor. A federal worker must initiate contact with the counselor within forty five days of the firing. This is different than public sector employees, who normally have 180 days in which to contact a counselor. If the counselor is not contacted within this time frame then you will lose your right to bring a claim. Victims will have the right to pursue their case through an EEO grievance or, if applicable, through the Merit Systems Protection Board. If the case involves age discrimination, however, then the victim may proceed directly to litigation in the Federal District Court.

Once the EEO counselor has completed their part in the process then the employee will receive a notice stating that an EEO Complaint must be filed within fifteen days if they wish to further pursue their claim. The EEO Complaint will be filed with the agency which wrongfully terminated the employee. The agency will then investigate the matter and the employee may request a hearing before an Administrative Judge any time after 180 days from the time the Complaint was filed. The agency will have authority to dismiss the Complaint but the EEOC can be asked to review such a dismissal. If the matter goes to a hearing before the Administrative Judge then that Judge may also dismiss the claim. Such a dismissal may also be appealed to the EEOC.

Once the above processes and subsequent EEOC appeals have been concluded then the terminated employee may file a lawsuit in Federal Court. It is important to understand that failing to follow these procedures, and proceeding straight to Federal Court, can result in your case being dismissed. Federal employees are required to “exhaust their administrative remedies” before filing a lawsuit. Navigating the system can be extremely complicated and it is strongly suggested that you retain a lawyer. Counsel will assist you in understanding what comes next as the process moves forward. Your representative will also ensure that all deadlines are met and that proper procedures are followed.

Our federal employment law attorneys represent U.S. government workers throughout the United States. If you have been wrongfully terminated then do not make the mistake of thinking that you lack options. We are experienced in handling such matters and are ready to assist you. Contact us today.

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