No-FEAR Act


No-FEAR Act

The Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 is a United States federal law that seeks to discourage federal managers and supervisors from engaging in unlawful discrimination and retaliation. It is popularly called the No-FEAR Act, and is also known as Public Law 107–174.

Contents

Enactment

On August 18, 2000, a federal jury found the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guilty of violating the civil rights of Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo on the basis of race, sex, color and a hostile work environment, under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She was awarded $600,000. The EPA had refused to promote Coleman-Adebayo shortly after she alleged the presence of environmental and health problems at the Brits, South Africa, vanadium mines.[1]

Sparked by this outcome, Congressman F.James Sensenbrenner, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee introduced the No-FEAR Act into Congress. Dr. Coleman-Adebayo founded the No FEAR Institute to organize support for the bill's purposes while continuing to work for the EPA.[1] The No FEAR Institute spearheaded the No FEAR Coalition to advocate for passage of the Act.[citation needed]

President George W. Bush signed it into law on May 15, 2002, making it the first United States civil rights law of the 21st Century.[citation needed]

Findings

In Section 101, the No-FEAR Act makes the following findings:
Congress finds that—
(1) Federal agencies cannot be run effectively if those agencies practice or tolerate discrimination;
(2) Congress has heard testimony from individuals, including representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Federation of Government Employees, that point to chronic problems of discrimination and retaliation against Federal employees
(3) in August 2000, a jury found that the Environmental Protection Agency had discriminated against a senior social scientist, and awarded that scientist $600,000;
(4) in October 2000, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation found that the Environmental Protection Agency had retaliated against a senior scientist for disagreeing with that agency on a matter of science and for helping Congress to carry out its oversight responsibilities;
(5) there have been several recent class action suits based on discrimination brought against Federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the United States Marshals Service, the Department of Agriculture, the United States Information Agency, and the Social Security Administration;
(6) notifying Federal employees of their rights under discrimination and whistleblower laws should increase Federal agency compliance with the law;
(7) requiring annual reports to Congress on the number and severity of discrimination and whistleblower cases brought against each Federal agency should enable Congress to improve its oversight over compliance by agencies with the law; and
(8) requiring Federal agencies to pay for any discrimination or whistleblower judgment, award, or settlement should improve agency accountability with respect to discrimination and whistleblower laws.

Provisions

The main provision of the No-FEAR Act, Section 201, is to require federal agencies to pay awards for discrimination and retaliation violations out of their own budgets. They are required to reimburse the General Fund of the Treasury within a reasonable time of any such award.

Section 202 requires notification to all federal employees and applicants for employment about their rights under federal law. Such notification is now made on the Internet. All federal agencies are also required to provide training to all their employees about their rights and remedies under antidiscrimination and anti-retaliation laws.

Finally, Section 203 requires annual reports from each agency stating:
(1) the number of discrimination and retaliation cases filed against the agency;
(2) the status of those cases;
(3) the amount of money the agency must pay in connection with each case, stating separately the amount for the payment of attorneys’ fees, if any;
(4) the number of employees disciplined for discrimination, retaliation, harassment, or any other infraction of antidiscrimination and retaliation laws;
(5) equal employment opportunity data;
(6) the agency's policy on disciplinary actions against Federal employees who discriminate or retaliate, and the number of employees who are disciplined in accordance with such policy and the specific nature of the disciplinary action taken;
(7) an analysis of the information including—
(A) an examination of trends;
(B) causal analysis;
(C) practical knowledge gained through experience; and
(D) any actions planned or taken to improve complaint or civil rights programs of the agency; and
(8) any adjustment to comply with the requirements under section 201.

The Act also permits rule-making, and requires studies of retaliation and discrimination by federal agencies.

Criticism

Dr. Coleman-Adebayo and others have criticized implementation of the No-FEAR Act on grounds that agencies are abusing the provision allowing them a "reasonable" time to make their reimbursements to the General Fund of the Treasury. They have proposed a No-FEAR II Act to set a time limit for such reimbursements, and to increase the penalties for violations.[citation needed]

No FEAR, the movie

In 2005, Danny Glover and Joslyn Barnes announced plans to make a movie about Dr. Coleman-Adebayo's experience.[2]

See also

External links

References

  1. ^ a b Fears, D., "Coming Soon: A Tale of Whistleblowing at the EPA," Washington Post, 10 July 2006. [1]

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