No FEAR Act Information

On May 15, 2002, Congress enacted the "Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002," Public Law 107-174, known as the No FEAR Act. One purpose of the act is to hold federal agencies accountable for violations of antidiscrimination and whistleblower protection laws. The act requires that federal agencies post on their public websites certain summary statistical data relating to equal employment opportunity complaints filed against them.

The act also requires that each federal agency provide the following notice to its employees, former employees, and applicants for federal employment to inform them of the rights and protections available to them under federal antidiscrimination and whistleblower protection laws.

Antidiscrimination Laws

A federal agency cannot discriminate against an employee or applicant with respect to the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 and over), disability, genetic information, marital status, or political affiliation. Discrimination on these bases is prohibited by one or more of the following statutes: 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(1), 29 U.S.C. 206(d), 29 U.S.C. 631, 29 U.S.C. 633a, 29 U.S.C. 791, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-16, 42 U.S.C. 12101, and Pub. L. 110-233. It is also GAO policy to provide protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

If you believe that you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, or gender identity, you must contact an Office of Opportunity and Inclusiveness (OOI) counselor within 45 calendar days of the alleged discriminatory action, or, in the case of a personnel action, within 45 calendar days of the effective date of the action, before you can file a formal complaint of discrimination with your agency. See GAO Order 2713.2, "Discrimination Complaint Resolution Process" (December 9, 2009). If you believe that you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination on the basis of age, you must either contact an EEO counselor as noted above or give notice of intent to sue to OOI within 180 calendar days of the alleged discriminatory action. If you are alleging discrimination based on marital status or political affiliation, you may file a charge with the Personnel Appeals Board Office of General Counsel (PAB/OGC). See 4 C.F.R. Part 28. In addition, in certain types of adverse and performance-based actions, such as removals, you may file a discrimination charge directly with the PAB/OGC within 30 days of the effective date of the action, in lieu of filing a complaint with OOI. See 4 C.F.R. 28.98(c) for further information.

Whistleblower Protection Laws

A federal employee with authority to take, direct others to take, recommend, or approve any personnel action must not use that authority to take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take, a personnel action against an employee or applicant because of disclosure of information by that individual that is reasonably believed to evidence violations of law, rule, or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, unless disclosure of such information is specifically prohibited by law and such information is specifically required by executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs.

Retaliation against an employee or applicant for making a protected disclosure is prohibited by 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(8), as made applicable to GAO by 31 U.S.C. 732(b)(2).

If you believe that you have been the victim of whistleblower retaliation, you may file a charge with the PAB/OGC at 441 G Street, N.W., Suite 1562, Washington D.C. 20548. See 4 C.F.R. Part 28.

Retaliation for Engaging in Protected Activity

A federal agency cannot retaliate against an employee or applicant because that individual exercises his or her rights under any of the federal antidiscrimination or whistleblower protection laws listed above. If you believe that you are the victim of retaliation for engaging in protected activity, you must follow, as appropriate, the procedures described in the Antidiscrimination Laws and Whistleblower Protection sections.

Disciplinary Actions

Under the existing laws, each agency retains the right, where appropriate, to discipline a federal employee for conduct that is inconsistent with federal antidiscrimination and whistleblower protection laws up to and including removal. Nothing in the No FEAR Act alters existing laws or permits an agency to take unfounded disciplinary action against a federal employee or to violate the procedural rights of a federal employee who has been accused of discrimination.

Additional Information

For further information regarding the No FEAR Act regulations, refer to 5 C.F.R. Part 724, or contact the OOI or Office of General Counsel, Legal Services Group. OOI is located at 441 G Street, N.W., Room 6B28, Washington, D.C. 20548. The Office of General Counsel, Legal Services, is located at 441 G Street, N.W., Room 7838, Washington, D.C. 20548. Additional information regarding federal antidiscrimination, whistleblower protection, and retaliation laws can be found on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website, the Office of Special Counsel website, in GAO Order 2713.2, "Discrimination Complaint Resolution Process" (December 9, 2009), and in PAB/OGC regulations, 4 C.F.R. Part 28. In addition, the PAB/OGC is located at GAO Headquarters, Suite 1562, 441 G Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20548.

Existing Rights Unchanged

Pursuant to Section 205 of the No FEAR Act, neither the act nor this notice creates, expands, or reduces any rights otherwise available to any employee, former employee, or applicant under the laws of the United States, including the provisions of law specified in 5 U.S.C. 2302(d).