Federal Anti-Discrimination Statutes and Executive Orders
Federal employees are protected against discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, military service (past, present, or future), and against retaliation for participation in EEO activity or opposition to discrimination. The statutory sources include the following: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967; Rehabilitation Act of 1973; Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008; the Equal Pay Act of 1963; and Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.
Executive Orders 11478, 13087, and 13152 provide similar protections against discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, and age, and add the protected bases of parental status and sexual orientation.
An employee who believes he or she has been subjected to discrimination or retaliation involving a basis prohibited under an EEO statute or one of the above-referenced Executive Orders, must contact his or her servicing EEO office within 45 days of the alleged discrimination if he or she wishes to pursue an EEO complaint.
DHS Anti-Harassment Policy
Unlawful discrimination includes harassment on the basis of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, marital status, parental status, political affiliation or any other basis protected by law, that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or that creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile environment. DHS’s Anti-Harassment Policy (Directive Number 256-01) is available online (PDF - 8 pages, 247 KB).
Title 5 of the United States Code: Civilian Employees
Nearly all DHS civilian employees and applicants for employment are covered by Title 5 of the United States Code, which forbids discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and also on the basis of marital status, political affiliation, whistleblowing activity, and other conduct that does not adversely affect work performance. 5 U.S.C. § 2302. Additionally, OPM has interpreted this statute to prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation. See OPM's Guide to Employee Rights in Addressing Sexual Orientation Discrimination.
An employee who believes he or she has been subjected to a personnel practice that violates Title 5 may take one or more of the following courses of action: (1) contact his or her servicing Human Capital Office; (2) contact his or her servicing EEO office within 45 days to file an EEO complaint pursuant to procedures established by their servicing EEO office; (3) file an administrative grievance as provided for by DHS Directive 256-02 or a grievance under an applicable collective bargaining agreement; (4) file an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), as appropriate; or (5) file a complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC). Additional relevant information, including requirements and timeframes for timely raising discrimination claims, is available from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board; and the Office of Special Counsel.
Titles 10 and 14 of the United States Code: Military Personnel
Military members of the Coast Guard, as members of the armed forces, are excluded by 5 U.S.C. § 2102 from the personnel management and anti-discrimination provisions, described above, that apply to federal civilian employees. However, military personnel are entitled to protection from discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation pursuant to Executive Orders 11478 and 13087 and the DHS Anti-Harassment Policy described above. And Coast Guard policy provides that military personnel may seek counseling and file complaints with the CG Office of Civil Rights for discrimination based on race, religion, sex, color, national origin, and retaliation. COMDTINST M5350.4 (series). Military members also are protected from retaliatory personnel actions for making certain lawful communications with members of Congress, the Inspector General, or military chain of command. 10 U.S.C § 1034.