“NO FEAR ACT” - BACKGROUND
The “No FEAR” Act of 2001 (H.R. 169), introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, was introduced after
allegations of discrimination at the Environmental Protection Agency came to the attention of the House Science
Committee. Sensenbrenner is the former chairman of that committee. The Act passed both houses of Congress and on
May 15, 2002, was signed into law by President Bush.
“After a year-long investigation I was surprised to discover that some federal agencies appeared to be allowing
discrimination and retaliation in the workplace,” said Sensenbrenner. “A number of EPA employees came forward to tell
Congress…about the systematic culture of discrimination at the EPA.”
In August 2000, Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, a black senior manager at EPA, won a $600,000 verdict in a race and sex
discrimination suit against the agency. A month later, EPA employees held a press conference in Washington alleging
widespread discrimination at the agency.
Sensenbrenner’s bill gives federal employees additional on-the-job protection against discrimination and retaliation in
the workplace by requiring more accountability from agencies.
The bill requires that agencies that lose or settle discrimination and whistleblower cases pay judgments out of their
budgets. Currently, such payments are made out of a general federal judgment fund. Under the proposed law, agencies
must also make employees aware of discrimination and whistleblower protection laws.
The legislation also requires each agency to file with Congress an annual report detailing the number of discrimination
or whistleblower cases filed with it, how the cases were resolved, the amount of settlements made and the number of
agency employees disciplined for discrimination or harassment.