Something discriminatory has happened to you in the federal workplace, and you don’t know whether to file an EEO complaint or a grievance about the matter. Here are some things to consider in making the decision about which route to choose.
Under the EEOC’s regulations, a federal employee may file either an EEO complaint or a grievance under the negotiated grievance procedure about a discriminatory action. However, an employee cannot file both an EEO complaint and a grievance about the same action. For instance, once an employee chooses to file grievance on an action, the employee cannot also file an EEO complaint about the same matter. Similarly, once an employee files a formal written EEO complaint about an action, the employee may not file a grievance about the same matter. This is called an election of remedies—an employee must choose which route he or she would like to take to challenge the discriminatory action. Further, withdrawing a grievance that has already been filed under the negotiated grievance procedure does not negate the election of remedies. As such, an employee may not file a grievance, then withdraw the grievance and file an EEO complaint. This rule is contained at 29 C.F.R. § 1614.301.
This “election of remedies” rule does not apply to certain federal employees, such as employees of the United States Postal Service. USPS employees may file both a grievance and an EEO complaint about the same action. See Strickland v. U.S.P.S., EEOC Appeal No. 01974724, Agency No. 1-H-342-1236-95 (Sept. 2, 1998). Also, the “election of remedies” rule only applies to negotiated grievance procedures. It does not apply to administrative grievance procedures established by an agency.
Before deciding which challenge to file to discriminatory activity, contact Kator, Parks & Weiser for a free consultation.