Are Federal Managers and Supervisors “Targets” for EEO Complaints?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a vital and incredibly busy agency. In FY 2018 alone, they resolved over 90,000 charges of discrimination, and handled over 750,000 inquiries by phone, email, or field office visits. And the rate of complaints is not decreasing.i For example, sexual harassment claims are up 13.6 percent in 2018, while EEOC staff levels are below what they were in 1980.ii

In 2018, almost half of EEOC staff said in a government survey that they didn’t have the resources to do their jobs. That is higher than average for federal agencies. Compared to other agencies, the EEOC was among the highest percentage expressing their workload is unreasonable. And, of course, funding for the agency is a political football.iii

Filing or being the subject of an EEO complaint can be a long and emotionally draining process. That is why if a complaint has been lodged against you, you need legal and financial support.

Federal managers and supervisors are especially vulnerable to EEO complaints. If the senior management of your agency is in turmoil due to changing leadership or reduced budgets, employees may view their immediate management staff as the only people available to direct their complaints.  

We live in a litigious society. Federal supervisory staff can face allegations of misconduct and wrongdoing from employees for just doing their jobs – whether it is evaluating performance, giving job assignments, or hiring. You may also be accused of harassment or discrimination.

In the event of a covered claim, Federal Employee Professional Liability Insurance (FEPLI) from Starr Wright USA helps federal managers and supervisors secure legal counseling. It also can cover qualifying civil court judgments against you, defense costs for federal government-initiated administrative proceedings, and defense costs for criminal proceedings or investigations.

Starr Wright USA invented Federal Employee Professional Liability Insurance. It provides federal employees legal assistance if a qualifying claim is made against you – even if the EEO complaint or other allegations made against you are false. Starr Wright USA has affordable plan options, including those geared to federal managers and federal supervisors.

FEPLI helps you access an attorney with extensive experience when responding to qualifying federal EEOC complaints. Most general practice attorneys do not have the knowledge about federal employment law that you need to manage your case. The EEOC process is different for federal employees than non-federal employees. You need an expert.

The EEOC recently started a new alternative dispute resolution program for federal employees.iv The intent is to reduce the backlog of cases. The EEOC also ranks cases and assigns some as high priority if the case has strong evidence. An experienced attorney guides you through the process and stays up to date on changes in how EEOC cases are managed. That can make a difference in expediting and resolving your case.

Our federal professional liability insurance has helped thousands of people avoid costly out-of-pocket judgments. Whether you win or lose a case, it can have devastating financial consequences. With FEPLI coverage, you may pay nothing for your defense, and your case can be closed with little-to-no financial burden on you.

Here are some examples of how Starr Wright USA can help federal managers and supervisors:v  

A federal manager faced allegations of creating a hostile work environment by a disgruntled employee. Once the manager received notice, she filed a claim with Starr Wright USA. Legal counsel reviewed the facts to develop a defense plan, prepared the federal manager for the interview process, and provided ongoing legal counsel.

The result? No Actionable Misconduct was found. Case Closed.

A federal manager was notified of an investigation of misconduct while hiring new employees. Two internal job candidates alleged discrimination because they were not hired. The federal manager contacted Starr Wright USA for assistance and filed a claim. The legal team assigned to this manager demonstrated that the best-qualified candidate was chosen for the job, and that the hiring process met legal requirements.

The result?  The discrimination charges were dismissed. The $20,000 defense cost was covered.

A federal supervisor was accused by a subordinate of whistleblower reprisal. The subordinate claims he was reassigned and demoted due to his whistle-blowing activity. The supervisor was advised the government would not provide legal counsel, so she exercised her right to retain personal legal representation and reported the claim to Starr Wright USA.

The result? With guidance from her attorney, it was determined she had not committed a prohibited personnel practice. The reassignment was not considered a demotion since there was no change in pay grade. The $10,000 legal fee was covered by her FEPLI policy.  


These are just a few examples of how FEPLI coverage can assist you if you manage or supervise federal employees.

The EEOC can take action against you. If your agency decides not to defend you, then you are likely liable for all legal costs and any damages. Adding to the risk, a homeowner’s policy does not usually cover many of the costs incurred from a lawsuit, investigation, or administrative action implicated federal employee professional liability.

Starr Wright USA believes federal managers and supervisors deserve an advocate. If you are faced with an EEO complaint, you need someone qualified to assist you through the entire process.

FEPLI is affordable. Plus, federal agencies are required to reimburse qualified employees up to 50% (a maximum of $150) of their FEPLI premium. Don’t wait until it’s too late – apply for coverage today.

Article authored by Starr Wright USA.

Starr Wright USA is a marketing name for Starr Wright Insurance Agency, Inc. and its affiliate(s). Starr Wright USA is an insurance agency specializing in insurance solutions for federal employees and federal contractors. For more information, visit WrightUSA.com. Starr Wright USA is a division of Starr Insurance Companies, which is a marketing name for the operating insurance and travel assistance companies and subsidiaries of Starr International Company, Inc. and for the investment business of C.V. Starr & Co., Inc.

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[i]
https://www1.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/4-10-19.cfm
[ii]
Anti-bias agency grappling with low staffing and budget cuts
[iii]
More and more workplace discrimination cases are being closed before they’re even investigated
[iv]
EEOC Offers New Alternative Dispute Resolution Route
[v] Starr Wright USA Case Studies