Federal employees who allege disability discrimination have to complain to an internal equal employment opportunity officer within 45 days of the alleged discrimination—unless they can show their employer had a discriminatory policy (not practice). But that’s hard to do.
Recent case: Anthony Ponomarenko quit his job as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. The reason: He claimed his supervisors’ orders were aggravating his disabilities. Ponomarenko suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and a cardiac condition.
Although he missed his 45-day deadline, he said he should be excused for not complaining internally.
The court rejected the request, pointing out that each individual complaint Ponomarenko had involved a separate incident. He could show no discriminatory pattern in those incidents. The court said he should have filed a complaint with the EEO office each time. (Ponomarenko v. Potter, No. 1:10-CV-563, ND OH, 2011)
- After worker complains of bias, beware even small job changes--such as less overtime
- Thwart retaliation claims by documenting your rationale for handling of original complaint
- Remind bosses: No comments about EEOC complaints
- Write Job Descriptions Before Trouble Starts
- If you don't have a policy, you don't have a defense