Claims of discrimination within government agencies are always troubling. The federal government has often had some of the most progressive personnel policies and it is expected that the federal government, which has the responsibility to enforce many of the anti-discrimination law, should always comply with those laws.
Those issues become even more troubling when the discrimination is occurring in an agency that is charged with enforcing laws which promote fairness and work to ensure those subject to the agencies regulations are treated on level playing field.
The allegations that the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) inappropriately treated many of its employees, assigning bad performance ratings apparently for everything from being a union member or living outside of Washington D.C. to being older, black or Hispanic.
For federal employees, receiving poor performance ratings can have long-term consequence, included lower pay, less chance of obtaining a promotion to a higher grade level or a position with greater responsibility.
It can also leave an employee more vulnerable to adverse disciplinary actions, as it can be conflated with allegations of some wrongdoing to lead to demotions or termination.
Beyond harming individuals within the agency, the important mission of the CFPB has been jeopardized. Congressional critics, many of whom have little sympathy or interest in workers’ rights in general, have suddenly found the discrimination “particularly troubling.”
There is some worry that they will act to dismantle the CFPB, using the discriminatory evaluations as cover.
The agency is taking steps to eliminate the performance rating issues and to increase the pay of employees who were unfairly treated. While unfortunate, the discrimination issues can be rectified by making the appropriate changes within management.
Source: The Plain Dealer, “More must be done to fix discrimination at Richard Cordray’s federal agency, union representative tells Congress,” Sabrina Eaton, May 21, 2014