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Can You Sue The Federal Government For Discrimination

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Not All Employers Are Subject To Eeoc Laws

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Only employers with a certain number of employees are subject to EEOC laws. The number of employees changes depending on the type of employer and the kind of discrimination alleged.

  • Businesses, state, and local governments must follow most EEOC laws if they have 15 or more employees.

  • Federal agencies must follow all EEOC laws, no matter how many employees they have.

Build Your Case On Time

When suing the government, you need to file a notice of claim before filing a lawsuit in court.

The notice of claim may vary depending on whether you are suing the federal or state government and may vary from one agency to the next. It is typically one to three pages long.

In the notice of claim, you must state that you have a claim against certain government employees or government, explain the basic facts surrounding your claim and, in some cases, must state the amount of money you are seeking.

The purpose of a notice of claim is to give the government a period of time to investigate your claims. The government may wish to settle your case outside of court. In most cases, however, the government will deny your claim or simply allow the claim to expire by failing to settle within a specified period of time, and you will need to bring a lawsuit after the notice of claim period expires.

There are strict time limitations that apply to claims against government agencies. The time limitations are often significantly shorter than the time limits on filing claims against private individuals or corporations. Failure to abide by these time limits may result in dismissal of your claim against the government entity.

Can You Sue For Civil Rights Violations

If you believe your civil rights have been violated under one of the many federal or state civil rights laws, you can do two things:

  • You can file a claim with the relevant government agency asking them to investigate your claim of discrimination
  • You can sue in civil court for a civil rights violation

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Can A Federal Employee Sue Their Employer

Federal employees share many similarities with their privately employed counterparts.

However, when a privately employed person is injured or wrongfully terminated, they can sue their employer.

When the government is your employer, the question often arises: Can a federal employee sue their employer?

The answer is yes, with some caveats. Because the federal government has sovereign immunity, federal employees cannot file lawsuits against it unless the government waives this immunity. Therefore, if a federal employee wants to sue the federal government, they can do so only in limited circumstances.

In these limited circumstances, the exact methods for suing the government may not be actual lawsuits, at least at first. Federal employees have to go through certain administrative procedures before they can file a lawsuit in federal court, and thankfully many times a complaint can be resolved during these administrative procedures.

Our federal EEOC attorneys will explain what you need to know.

How To File An Employment Discrimination Complaint

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To file a complaint, contact your EEOC field office.

Many state and local governments have anti-discrimination laws. These laws may offer extra protection beyond federal law.

Some state laws:

  • Apply to businesses with only five or six employees

  • Prohibit discrimination based on whether you’re married or have children

  • Have different deadlines for filing a charge

  • Have different standards for deciding whether you’re covered

Many state laws have more protections for nursing mothers than federal law requires. State labor offices enforce these laws.

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Make A Civil Rights Complaint

The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties reviews and investigates civil rights and civil liberties complaints made by the public regarding U.S. Department of Homeland Security policies and activities. Under 6 U.S.C. § 345 and 42 U.S.C. § 2000ee-1, CRCL reviews and assesses allegations involving a range of alleged civil rights and civil liberties abuses, such as:

  • Discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability
  • Violation of rights while in immigration detention or as a subject of immigration enforcement
  • Discrimination or inappropriate questioning related to entry into the United States
  • Violation of due process rights, such as the right to timely notice of charges or access to a lawyer
  • Violation of confidentiality provisions of the Violence Against Women Act
  • Physical abuse or any other type of abuse
  • Denial of meaningful access to DHS or DHS-supported programs, activities, or services due to limited English proficiency and
  • Any other civil rights, civil liberties, or human rights violation related to a Department program or activity, including allegations of discrimination by an organization or program that receives financial assistance from DHS.

CRCL also reviews and investigates human rights complaints under Executive Order 13107 and disability accommodation complaints under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Laws Protecting You From Discrimination

Federal anti-discrimination laws include the following:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
  • Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the federal agency that enforces these laws.

In Pennsylvania, discrimination cases are handled by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission . This state agency enforces the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act , a state law that prohibits employment discrimination.

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About The Civil Rights Division

We protect your rights through:


We sue or prosecute individuals and organizations who violate civil rights laws.

You can help us do this work by reporting a possible civil rights violation through our online form.


We help the entire federal government work together to enforce these laws.

Our teams work with other agencies to promote a consistent approach to civil rights laws.

Federal And State Government Employee Rights Against Unlawful Termination

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Government workers also have broad protections against wrongful termination and employment discrimination. They are protected by rights provided the U.S. Constitution and, in some instances, also by state constitutions.

Unlike workers in the private sector, employees of local and state governments, as well as of the federal government, are protected by the constitutional rights and many other specialized federal, state, and local laws. For example, government workers are protected by the First Amendment right to free speech and by the due process clauses entitling them to certain procedural protections.

And yes, you read that right: private sector employees are not protected at work by constitutional protections like freedom of speech and due process.

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The Official Languages Act

In Canada, the Official Languages Act establishes the equality of English and French and grants language rights to all individuals. This act applies to federal institutions such as:

  • offices
  • crown corporations and
  • federal departments, agencies and businesses acting on their behalf. Certain private companies, like Air Canada, also have language obligations.

The Official Languages Act does not apply to municipalities, provincial government institutions or private companies.

Learn more about official languages rights or get a detailed explanation on the complaint process by downloading the document Filing a Complaint with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

Getting A Copy Of Your File:

Once you have received your Notice of Right to Sue and your case with MCHR is closed, you can get a copy of your file by making a written request. There is a copying charge of 10 cents per page plus postage. When MCHR receives your written request, MCHR will inform you of the appropriate charges. After MCHR receives your payment, MCHR will mail you a copy of your file. Depending on the size of your file, you should receive your copy in approximately two weeks. Respondents may similarly request a copy of the file.

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History Of Lawsuits Against A Sitting President

There is a long history of lawsuits against presidents â some come to fruition while others are refused a hearing by the Supreme Court.

These two cases have set much of the precedent for presidential lawsuits as they are today:

  • Nixon v. Fitzgerald is a case from 1982 where A. Earnest Fitzgerald brought a lawsuit against several government officials, including President Richard Nixon. The Supreme Court decided that presidents are not immune to criminal charges while in office.
  • In 1997, the Supreme Court heard Clinton v. Jones, which determined a sitting president could not be sued in a civil suit for official actions until the conclusion of their term. This gave President Bill Clinton temporary immunity . When he left office, Paula Jones was able to continue the sexual harassment lawsuit.

Lawsuits can also be used to stop a president-elect. In President Obama’s case, a 2009 lawsuit was filed in federal court claiming he was ineligible to be president.

Notable recent examples include President Trump being sued under the emoluments clause of the constitution, defamation, sexual harassment, and anti-abortion policies.

What Can A Federal Employee Sue The Federal Government For

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Wrongful termination and workplace discrimination are the most common lawsuits employees bring against their employers. Federal employees can sue the federal government for either of these reasons, though the process is different than with a private employer.

While private sector employees may bring lawsuits against employers in civil court, federal employees must first file a claim with an independent review body rather than the court system. The initial claim sets in motion the administrative process federal employees must exhaust before they can sue the federal government. Once the employee receives a final decision from the reviewing agency, they may file a lawsuit in federal court.

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Common Examples Of Compensatory Damages

These are just some of the types of compensatory examples that may be subject to recovery. The title of the harm itself does not control, the relevant inquiry is into the harm the complainant suffered and its relation to the misconduct engaged in by the employer.

  • emotional anguish
  • loss of enjoyment of life
  • injury to professional standing
  • injury to character and reputation
  • injury to credit standing
  • loss of health

When Can A Federal Employee Sue Their Employer

A federal employee can sue the federal government for discrimination, harassment, non-selection, demotion, wrongful termination, and for several other bases. For example, federal employee may have a claim to sue their federal agency if the employee

  • Faced discrimination or harassment based on their race, sex, or other protected characteristic
  • Was fired or experienced discrimination because the employee blew the whistle on misconduct, abuse of authority, or illegal activity or
  • Had their employment terminated for an unfair or arbitrary reason which would not promote the efficiency of the service.

These are only a few of the common claims a federal employee may have to sue their employer. If you believe you were wrongfully terminated or suffered harassment at your federal workplace, you should contact a federal employment lawyer who can advise you of your rights and possible avenues of recovery.

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Locating An Employment Attorney To Assist You In Filing A Lawsuit

Upon request, the EEOC offices can provide you a list of local attorneys who have indicated to EEOC they specialize in labor and employment law the EEOC does not make specific recommendations.

The following organizations also provide directories of attorneys who represent workers if you are considering filing a lawsuit:

American Bar Association – A Lawyer Referral Directory of Services of the American Bar Association organized by state and by legal issue.

National Employment Lawyers Association: NELA is a national professional organization of attorneys who represent employees in employment law cases.

Workplace Fairness: The Workplace Fairness Attorney Directory features lawyers from across the United States who primarily represent workers in employment cases.

Applicants Or Employees With Disabilities In The Federal Government

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If an employer is an executive branch of the federal government, an individual with a disability who is employed by or applies for employment with that employer is protected by Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.

To file a complaint, the individual must first contact an equal employment opportunity counselor at the agency where the alleged discrimination took place.

  • There is a private right of action under Section 501. An individual can file a private lawsuit in a U.S. district court within 90 days of receipt of a final decision taken by the agency on the complaint or 180 days after the date of filing a complaint if there has been no agency decision or 90 days after receipt of a decision by EEOC on an appeal or 180 days after the date of filing an appeal with EEOC if there has been no decision on the appeal.

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What To Do When Your Civil Rights Have Been Violated

A lawsuit for a civil rights violation will be handled in civil, not criminal court. In a civil case, the person claiming a civil rights violation files a “complaint” with the court.

The complaint includes facts and allegations that the plaintiff believes demonstrate that the “defendant” is responsible for the civil rights violations. The complaint will also identify harms suffered by the plaintiff as a result.

The two parties may settle their case before it goes to court. But if they do not, and the civil rights case goes to trial, the plaintiff must prove their case by a “preponderance of the evidence.” That means they must prove it is more likely than not that the defendant violated the law and is legally responsible for the damages alleged by the plaintiff.

A civil case typically consists of the following main phases:

We Uphold The Civil Rights Of All People In The United States

The Civil Rights Division enforces federal laws that protect you from discrimination based on your race, color, national origin, disability status, sex, religion, familial status, or loss of other constitutional rights.

If you believe your civil rights, or someone elses, have been violated, submit a report using our online form.

or learn more about your rights

If you are in danger, contact

If you or someone else is in immediate danger,

If you are reporting misconduct by law enforcement or believe you have experienced a hate crime, please contact the FBI.

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Do I Bring A Civil Rights Lawsuit In Federal Or State Court

Once you decide to file a lawsuit for a civil rights violation, one of your first decisions will be to file it in federal or state court. Depending on your case’s specifics, the choice might be up to you or dictated by a statute.

For example, federal statute 42 U.S.C. Section 1981a specifically permits a private lawsuit for any employee who has been the victim of intentional discrimination in employment. They can win money for damages caused.

So, you can file a lawsuit for discrimination in federal court no matter what state you live in, but your state may have a similar law. In that case, you can choose where to file your lawsuit.

Lawsuits Against A President Vs Impeachment

Can You Sue The Government

Congress can choose to impeach a president whether a lawsuit is involved or not. It is common for impeachment to follow a lawsuit, but a lawsuit does not need to occur. To date, there have been four impeachment inquiries:

  • Andrew Johnson: Charged for violating the Tenure of Office Act, but was not removed from office. The impeachment was not tied to a particular lawsuit.
  • Richard Nixon: Charged for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress, but was not removed from office. Nixon resigned. The impeachment was not tied to a particular lawsuit.
  • Bill Clinton: Charged for perjury to a grand jury and obstructing justice, but was not removed from office. This case was tied to a lawsuit.
  • Donald Trump: Charged for obstruction of justice and abuse of power, but was not removed from office. The impeachment was not tied to a particular lawsuit.

No one has been removed from the office of the president due to a lawsuit or impeachment. However, these can contribute to a president resigning or not running for a second term.

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Do You Need To File A Government Claim Before Filing A Lawsuit

For certain types of discrimination and civil rights violations, you MUST file a claim or complaint with a federal or state agency BEFORE filing any private lawsuit in court. These agencies set strict time limits for claim filings.

For example, an employee alleging employment discrimination must file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before filing a private lawsuit. They must do this within 180 days of the alleged offense.

The employee can sue only after receiving a “right to sue” letter from the EEOC .

How To Sue The Federal Government

This article was written by Jennifer Mueller, JD. Jennifer Mueller is an in-house legal expert at wikiHow. Jennifer reviews, fact-checks, and evaluates wikiHow’s legal content to ensure thoroughness and accuracy. She received her JD from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 2006.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 46,319 times.

Typically, you can’t sue the federal government. However, the Federal Tort Claims Act provides a limited right for private citizens to file a lawsuit in federal court against a federal government agency for negligence or personal injury claims. You may have a lawsuit under the FTCA if, for example, you were hit by a postal service truck while crossing the street, or you slipped and fell in a Social Security office. A lawsuit under the FTCA is more complicated than a basic personal injury lawsuit against another individual or a private business, and you must first exhaust administrative remedies before you have the right to sue the federal government.XResearch source

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