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How long do federal employees have to file a sexual harassment complaint?

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Question: How long do federal employees have to file a sexual harassment complaint?
Answer:

What are the statutes of limitations for federal employees for filing sexual harassment complaint?

If you work for any government agency, you must contact an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) counselor at the agency where you are employed. In most cases, federal workers must file sexual harassment complaints within 45 days from the day the first act of harassment took place.

According to a Leonard Hill, a New Jersey sexual harassment attorney:

"Government employees may be offered the choice between EEO counseling or an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program, such as a mediation program. If you do not settle the dispute through counseling or ADR, you can file a formal discrimination complaint against the agency with the agency's EEO Office within 15 days from the day you received notice from your EEO Counselor about how to file a formal complaint.

If you do file a formal complaint the agency has 180 days to conduct an investigation. When the investigation is finished, the agency will issue a notice giving you two choices:

  • You can request a hearing; or
  • You may ask the agency to issue a decision as to whether the discrimination occurred."

If you request a hearing it must be made in writing within 30 days from the day you receive the notice from the agency about your hearing rights.

If you appeal a decision, you must file your appeal not later than 30 days after you receive the final order.

Can't I just file a lawsuit against a government agency?

No. Federal workers are required to at least initiate the administrative complaint process before they have the right to file a lawsuit, but workers are given the right to quit the administrative process and file a lawsuit in court, at various points, including:

  • If the agency has not issued a decision and no appeal has been filed after 180 days. workers can opt to file their own lawsuit;
  • Workers can also file a lawsuit within 90 days from the day of the agency's decision as long as no appeal has been filed;
  • After the 180 days from the day you filed your appeal if the EEOC has not issued a decision, or within 90 days from the day you receive the EEOC's decision on your appeal.

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