Fedweek

The chairmen of two key House committees have asked the EEOC to justify a December rules proposal that would disallow union officials from using official time to represent federal employees pursuing EEO complaints.

The draft rule would reverse a practice in effect since the early 1970s that has allowed someone representing an employee in an EEO proceeding to remain in paid status.

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The proposal would disallow official time for any representative who is a federal employee acting in a union capacity, such as a steward or other union official.

The heads of the Education and Labor Committee and Oversight and Reform Committee wrote to the EEOC that they are “extremely concerned about the potential effects” of such a change and asked for detailed information on how the proposal came about, the legal justification behind it, an analysis of the potential impact, and more.

The EEOC proposal is a separate, but parallel, effort to the Trump administration’s executive orders to limit the amounts and other allowable uses of official time for union purposes more broadly. Rules to carry out those changes previously were proposed by OPM and are projected to be finalized in the months ahead.

Federal unions previously raised objections to the EEOC plan, saying that many employees could lose valid complaints if they chose to represent themselves, given the complexities of the EEO process. They could hire outside counsel to represent them but that would come at a cost that some could not afford, unions add.

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