Federal contractors must navigate workplace mediation without roadmap

By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 24, 2010; 6:18 PM

“As the U.S. government’s use of contract workers rises, agencies ranging from the Defense Department to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy are finding they have to deal with more complex questions of defining a person’s work status as a contractor versus a federal employee.

The issue is becoming increasingly important as to whether a federal agency or a contractor is responsible when disputes emerge over pay, workers compensation, harassment complaints, discrimination claims and other workplace issues. Contractors aren’t entitled to the same grievance processes as federal employees and typically have to go through outside agencies such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or get private lawyers and file lawsuits, whereas federal employees have a range of mediation services and appeals available to them.

In the last decade, the EEOC has ruled in 90 cases that a federal agency and a private contractor are “joint employers” of a person, meaning their case has to be processed as if they were a civil servant.”

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Link to original:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/24/AR2010102402229.html