Protections Against Discrimination and Other Prohibited Practices

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The laws enforced by EEOC makes it unlawful for Federal agencies to discriminate against employees and job applicants on the bases of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age. A person who files a complaint or participates in an investigation of an EEO complaint, or who opposes an employment practice made illegal under any of the laws that EEOC enforces is protected from retaliation.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as amended, protects employees and job applicants from employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Title VII protection covers the full spectrum of employment decisions, including recruitment, selections, terminations, and other decisions concerning terms and conditions of employment. See EEOC guidance on race/colorreligion, sexsexual harassmentpregnancy, andnational origin discrimination.

Equal Pay Act of 1963. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects men and women from sex-based wage discrimination in the payment of wages or benefits, who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment. See EEOC guidance on equal pay and compensation discrimination.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), as amended, protects persons 40 years of age or older from age-based employment discrimination. The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act amends several sections of the ADEA and establishes conditions for a waiver of ADEA protections. See EEOC guidance on age discrimination.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, protects employees and job applicants from employment discrimination based on disability. This law covers qualified employees and job applicants with disabilities. It also requires Federal agencies to make reasonable accommodation of any known disabilities unless such accommodation would cause an undue hardship. See EEOC guidance on disability discrimination.

The Civil Rights Act of 1991. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 amends several sections of Title VII to strengthen and improve Federal civil rights laws and provide for the recovery of compensatory damages in Federal sector cases of intentional employment discrimination.

Additional information about unlawful discriminatory and retaliatory practices and the remedies is available to Federal employees and applicants who believe they have been subjected to such practices.

Office of Special Counsel and the Merit Systems Protection Board

Other laws enforced by both the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) protect Federal employees from certain prohibited personnel practices. According to Section 2302(b) of Title 5 of the United States Code, any employee who has authority to take, direct others to take, recommend or approve personnel actions may not:

  • Discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status, or political affiliation.
  • Solicit or consider employment recommendations based on factors other than personal knowledge or records of job related abilities or characteristics.
  • Coerce an employee’s political activity or take action against any employee as reprisal for refusing to engage in political activity.
  • Deceive or willfully obstruct a person’s right to compete for employment.
  • Influence any person to withdraw from competition for a position to improve or injure the employment prospects of any other person.
  • Give unauthorized preference or advantage to any person to improve or injure the employment prospects of any particular employee or applicant.
  • Engage in nepotism.
  • Retaliate against an employee or an applicant because of an individual's legal disclosure of information evidencing wrongdoing ("whistleblowing").
  • Retaliate against an employee or applicant for exercising an appeal, complaint or grievance right; testifying or assisting another in exercising such a right, cooperating with an Inspector General or the Special Counsel, or refusing to obey an order that would break a law.
  • Discriminate against an employee based on conduct which is not adverse to on-the-job performance of the employee, applicant, or others. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has interpreted the prohibition of discrimination based on "conduct" to include discrimination based on sexual orientation. See Addressing Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Federal Civilian Employment.
  • Violate veterans’ preference requirements.
  • Violate any law, rule, or regulation which implements or directly concerns the merit principles.

For additional information about Federal employee and applicant protection regarding prohibited personnel practices, you may call the FTC Office of Inspector General (202) 326-2800, the Office of Special Counsel (202) 653-7188 or visit its website, or you may call the Merit Systems Protection Board (202) 653-6772 or visit its website. You may also contact the FTC's Office of Human Resources Management at (202) 326-2021.