May 15, 2013, will mark the 11th anniversary of the Notification and Federal Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation (No FEAR) Act. Congressed passed No FEAR on May 15, 2002, after hearing testimony that federal workforce abuse reduces government’s ability to effectively execute with integrity essential programs such as waste management, pollution prevention, water treatment, food inspection, Medicare, social security and disaster assistance. President George W. Bush signed the Act into law (Public Law 107—174). The law was to “put the bite into federal employment discrimination” by making federal managers and agencies more accountable to their employees when allegations of discrimination, retaliation, and harassment are made. Despite the No FEAR Act’s intent, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that public officials continue to engage in retaliation.
The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C), a civil rights group and support network, is not surprised by EEOC reports of “Post-No FEAR Act” surges in federal discrimination complaints. Afterall, the group says “agencies are more inclined to reward lawbreakers rather than to punish them.” C4C cites the case of Pierre vs. Salazar. In the aftermath of Pierre, the U.S. Department of Interior rewarded Craig Littlejohn, who served as Interior’s Chief Information Officer, with a pay increase. The increase was awarded less than two weeks after the EEOC found Littlejohn “guilty of discrimination.”
In light of Interior’s and other federal agencies’ failure to hold public officials accountable for civil rights violations, the C4C recently launched its “Unleash No FEAR” campaign. The social media initiative serves to raise public awareness about how federal workplace abuse endangers the lives and well-being of U.S. citizens. C4C asserts that long-standing and costly class action lawsuits against federal entities like the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Love v. Vilsack and the U.S. Secret Service – Moore et. al v. Napolitano reveal government’s tolerance of abuse by public officials.
C4C members say they are deeply committed to exposing discriminatory practices of public officials for such abuse “endangers the nation’s security, impedes agency productivity and leaves taxpayers with a hefty price to pay due to years of costly litigation.” Class action lawsuits against Agriculture (Pigford vs. Vilsack) and Interior (Cobell vs. Salazar) have cost taxpayers in the “billions.” Hence, a key campaign goal of “Unleash No FEAR” is to close what C4C members view as a “loophole” in No FEAR. With respect to discipline for violations, No FEAR only requires agencies to report to Congress any discipline taken against an official who breaks the law. It does not require agencies “to impose discipline” when a public official breaks the law. Presently, rather than provide for any mandatory corrective disciplinary measure for civil rights violations, lawbreakers are predictably afforded free attorneys and routinely given professional liability insurance.
“You cannot have a corrective measure in place without an enforceable rule, law or regulations to encourage everyone to follow,” said Michael Castelle, C4C’s Diversity Chair.
“Federal managers, who are in positions of power and authority, too often inflict egregious acts because they can do so without facing any consequences,” said Paulette L. Taylor, the class agent of the Social Security Administration race discrimination complaint (Taylor et. al. vs. Astrue). Ms. Taylor also serves as C4C’s Civil Rights Chair.
“Race discrimination in the federal government is a covert form of domestic terrorism which continues to silently have a devastating impact on the livelihoods and the psyche of many hard-working, and highly skilled African-Americans,” said David Grogan, a Deputy U.S. Marshal and lead plaintiff in a race-based class action against the U.S. Department of Justice’s Marshal Service (Grogan et. al v. Holder). As C4C’s Social Media Chair, Mr. Grogan raises public awareness that conscientious civil servants (i. e., marshals, analysts, census workers, claims examiners, air traffic controllers) often endure long suffering in a retaliatory culture of mistreatment.
In promoting its Unleash No FEAR campaign, C4C has produced an informational video highlighting the toxic federal sector culture. The employee advocacy group has also initiated a petition. The petition calls for President Obama, as head of the executive branch, to establish fairness within the federal workforce by “Mandating Discipline for Public Officials Who Break Civil Rights Laws.” Joining the petition to end abuse by public officials are concerned citizens, civil servants, and community group leaders of organizations including, but not limited to, the No FEAR Coalition, Broken Covenant, Brown Center For Public Policy, Blacks In Government, Federal Employed Women, Government Accountability Project, International Association of Whistleblowers, MSPB Watch, National Whistleblowers Center, Whistle Watch, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Coalition of Minority Employees, Acorn 8, Social Security Administration Black Females for Justice II and National Judicial Conduct and Disability Law Project, Inc. (NJCDLP).
For more information about the Coalition For Change, Inc.’s Unleash No FEAR campaign see article by Mr. Dennis Moore, writer and book reviewer at East County Magazine.