Retaliation was the most frequent charge in complaints filed by federal employees during fiscal year 2011, according to a report issued August 20 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
However, the number of complaints by federal employees decreased 2.1 percent from fiscal year 2010 to 7,553, according to the "Annual Report on the Federal Work Force Part I: EEO Complaints Processing for Fiscal Year 2011."
It was the fifth straight year, however, that retaliation topped the list as being the most frequently alleged complaint.
The total number of complaints by federal workers issued in fiscal year 2011, which ended Sept. 30, also declined—by 3.5 percent to 16,974—according to the report.
The issue or aspect of employment cited most frequently in the complaints filed was nonsexual harassment, which has been at the top of the list of issues in the complaint allegations filed for the past five fiscal years. It was followed by "promotion/nonselection" and "terms/conditions," according to the report.
The EEOC said in a statement that unlike in the private sector, where the EEOC is responsible for investigating discrimination charges but has no adjudicative authority, the federal sector equal employment opportunity complaint process calls for federal agencies to investigate complaints themselves and, in most cases, issue final determinations on the complaint's merits.
However, federal sector complainants have a right to request a hearing before an EEOC administrative judge and can appeal the federal agency's final complaint decision to the EEOC's Office of Federal Operations.
In July, the EEOC issued a final rule on the federal employee complaint process.
According to the report, the agency with the highest complainant rate in fiscal 2011 was the U.S. Government Printing Office, with 1.31 percent of its 2,207 employees filing complaints. This was followed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with 1.05 percent of 9,070 employees filing complaints.
Copies of the report are available here.