Discrimination Complaints in the U.S. Federal Government: Reviewing Progress Under the No FEAR Act

AuthorEllen V. Rubin,Ashley M. Alteri
Published date01 December 2019
Date01 December 2019
Subject MatterArticles
Review of Public Personnel Administration
2019, Vol. 39(4) 511 –522
© The Author(s) 2017
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DOI: 10.1177/0734371X17744864
Discrimination Complaints in
the U.S. Federal Government:
Reviewing Progress Under the
Ellen V. Rubin1 and Ashley M. Alteri2
The foundational goal of civil rights legislation is to reduce discrimination, in both
the public and private sector. To understand the levels of perceived discrimination
in the federal government, this research note examines 9 years of data reported
under the requirements of the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination
and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act). From 2006 to 2014, less than 1% of
federal employees filed discrimination complaints each year, and the discrimination
complaint rate did not significantly change over the time period. Race, color, and
national origin were the most frequently claimed discrimination bases. Approximately
half of all complaints alleged retaliation after filing an initial discrimination claim. In
addition, federal employees most frequently claimed that discrimination occurred in
the context of nonsexual harassment. This research note describes other trends in
discrimination claims and proposes directions for future research.
discrimination, diversity management, retaliation, nonsexual harassment, affirmative
action and equal employment opportunity
Over the last 50 years, public administration scholars evaluated various aspects of diversity
in the public sector. Recent articles by Pitts and Wise (2010) and Bearfield (2014) observe
that public administration diversity research focuses on the presence of different groups in
the public sector workforce and their distribution within organizational hierarchies (e.g.,
1University at Albany, NY, USA
2Tennessee State University, Nashville, USA
Corresponding Author:
Ellen V. Rubin, Associate Professor, Department of Public Administration and Policy, University at
Albany, State University of New York, 135 Western Ave., Milne Hall 101, Albany, NY 12222, USA.
Email: erubin@albany.edu
744864ROPXXX10.1177/0734371X17744864Review of Public Personnel AdministrationRubin and Alteri

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