Federal workers and private-sector workers don’t always benefit from the same legal protections. While federal workers (who have served in their position beyond their probationary period) are usually entitled to an appeals process in the event of termination or significantly adverse action on the part of an employer, private-sector workers benefit from broader anti-discrimination protection than public-sector workers do.
This is not to say that federal workers are not entitled to anti-discrimination protections, because they are. These protections are simply not as extensive as those that safeguard the rights of private-sector employees.
At present, federal law and executive orders broadly protect federal workers from the following forms of discrimination and harassment:
- Age (over 39)
- Genetic information
- Marital status
- National origin
- Parental status
- Political affiliation
- Pregnancy and conditions related to pregnancy
- Sexual orientation
Note that federal law also safeguards against retaliation for exercising a protected right, like voting, reporting safety hazards in the workplace and taking a legally-protected leave of absence.
Why remaining informed is key
By understanding the basics of federal anti-discrimination laws, you’ll be better prepared to spot unlawful treatment when it occurs. You’ll also be better prepared to speak up and take legal action if and when a situation warrants this approach.
Don’t forget that if you’re unsure of whether specific circumstances are violations of federal anti-discrimination law, you can seek clarification from a legal professional. You don’t need to understand the law inside and out to benefit from its protections. You just need to contact someone who does possess this understanding and is in a position to help you.