Author: Ryan Hicks

Federal Employees and the EEO process

Like state and/or private sector employees, federal employees – whether it be government, agency, or military – also have equal employment protections. Seeking such protection, however, works very differently…

As a principal matter, federal employees do not directly file their complaint(s) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or state commission, if applicable. Rather, they must first contact an EEO Counselor within their designated employer – every federal employer has some form of an equal employment complaint processing branch. While the filing timeline for any employee to file a discrimination complaint is already limited, it is even more the case for federal employees. In fact, a federal employee must make contact with an EEO counselor within 45 days of the date of the alleged discriminatory matter; failure to do so is likely a waiver of that claim.

The EEO counselor has 30-days (that may be extended to 60) to attempt to reach a resolution of the complaint (i.e. informal counseling). Alternatively, the employee may be able to seek resolution through an alternative dispute resolution program, which may take up to 90 days. Regardless, if informal counseling/mediation is unsuccessful, the EEO counselor will issue a notice of right to file a formal complaint. The employee then has 15 days to file a formal EEO complaint.

Formal EEO becomes an even more complicated process, which includes: (1) an investigator being assigned; (2) a record of investigation (ROI) being prepared; and (3) the right to request a hearing before an EEO Administrative Judge or to receive a Final Agency Decision without a hearing. Requesting a hearing before an EEO Judge as well as directly requesting a Final Agency Decision without a hearing both have pros and cons; there are also specific timelines applicable to both options. Both avenues also have various appellate processes should you disagree with the findings.

Ultimately, federal EEO is a complicated process that is extremely time sensitive and fact specific. If you are a federal employee who has concerns that you have been discriminated against, I recommend consulting with a lawyer as soon as possible. At CBPH, we help federal employees navigate the EEO system.

Best, Ryan  

Law Enforcement Certification in South Carolina

Law enforcement officers, like many professional careers, are subject to organizational oversight. In South Carolina, law enforcement officers are regulated by the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy and/or Law Enforcement Training Council.

Without a doubt, law enforcement officers have received increased public scrutiny in recent years. What the public – and even law enforcement officers themselves – do not often realize is that State law governs the determination of an officer’s fitness for duty as well as to adjudicate allegations that they engaged in misconduct.

Title 23, Chapter 23 of the South Carolina Code of Laws governs law enforcement officer eligibility and the adjudication of misconduct allegations. S.C. Code § 23-23-150(A)(3) defines “misconduct.” The statute further provides that if the head of a law enforcement agency or department within the State believes an officer has engaged in misconduct, as defined, it must be reported to the Academy. Upon receipt of the misconduct allegation, the Academy will preclude the individual from being employed as a law enforcement officer until the matter has been adjudicated. The officer has three (3) years from receipt of the allegation of misconduct to request a contested case hearing.

The contested case hearing is the sole avenue for a law enforcement officer in South Carolina to seek to have his/her certification reinstated. The hearing proceeds like a trial in that both parties are entitled to be represented by counsel, present opening statements, direct and cross examine witnesses, introduce evidence, and make a closing argument. Current regulations require that the reporting agency establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the officer engaged in the alleged misconduct. After receiving a recommendation from the hearing officer, the matter goes before the Council at a monthly meeting at which point a final agency decision is issued. In brief, the Council may permanently revoke certification, reinstate certification, or take some middle-ground action (i.e. probation, suspension, etc.).

CBPH is experienced in handling law enforcement certification matters, teacher certifications before the South Carolina Department of Education, and other licensure certification matters most often brought before a licensing board within South Carolina Labor Licensing and Regulation.

While I hope you are never in the situation, know that CBPH is here if your professional licensure or certification is ever in jeopardy.

Best, Ryan  

Locations in Columbia and Rock Hill
P.O. Box 11675
Columbia, SC 29211
(803) 799-9530

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