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Equal Opportunity Officer Roles and Responsibilities

An Equal Opportunity Officer is responsible for coordinating a recipient's obligations under 29 CFR Part 37.25. Those responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Serving as the recipient's liaison with CRC;
  • Monitoring and investigating the recipient's activities, and the activities of the entities that receive WIA Title I financial assistance from the recipient, to make sure that the recipient and its sub-recipients are not violating their nondiscrimination and equal opportunity obligations under WIA Title I and 29 CFR Part 37;
  • Reviewing the recipient's written policies to make sure that those policies are nondiscriminatory;
  • Developing and publishing the recipient's procedures for processing discrimination complaints, and making sure that those procedures are followed;
  • Reporting directly to the appropriate official about equal opportunity matters;
  • Undergoing training (at the recipient's expense) to maintain competency; and
  • If applicable, overseeing the development and implementation of the recipient's Methods of Administration under 29 CFR § 37.54.

More Information Regarding EO Officer Responsibilities

a) Reporting Relationships for EO Matters, Priority of Responsibilities, and Conflicts of Interest

Equal Opportunity Officers are required to report directly to an appropriate official within his/her organization (such as the State WIA Director, Governor’s WIA Liaison, Job Corps Center Director, SESA Administrator, or LWIA Administrator) about equal opportunity matters.

This means that EO Officers must report directly to the highest-ranking official in their organizations. If the EO Officer does not report directly to the top official, she or he must have access to that person without undue delay or obstructions, to ensure that the necessary flow of information between the EO Officer and the top official is not hindered.

An EO Officer may be assigned other duties, but he or she must be able to give top priority to, and to adequately accomplish all of, his/her responsibilities under WIA Section 188 and the WIA nondiscrimination regulations. Additionally, s/he must not have other responsibilities or activities that create a conflict, or the appearance of a conflict, with his or her duties as an EO Officer.

b) Methods of Administration

  • Each state is required to develop and submit to CRC a Methods of Administration (MOA). An MOA is a document that outlines the equal opportunity policies, procedures, and systems established by a State's Governor to give a reasonable guarantee that the State and its recipients will comply with Federal equal opportunity and nondiscrimination requirements. Each MOA must include narratives describing the actions the State is taking, and documentation that demonstrates that the State is actually taking those actions. A State’s EO Officer is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the State’s MOA.

Resources:

c) Complaint Processing

Each EO Officer is responsible for developing and publishing the procedures for processing discrimination complaints that will be used within his or her area of jurisdiction. For example, a State EO Officer is responsible for the discrimination complaint procedures to be used at the State level; s/he may also be responsible for the procedures to be used at other recipient levels, if the State’s MOA so states. The EO Officer is also responsible for making sure that the procedures are followed. The paragraphs below describe the legal requirements that govern the complaint process.

The WIA nondiscrimination regulations provide that “Any person who believes that either he or she, or any specific class of individuals, has been or is being subjected to discrimination prohibited by WIA or 29 CFR Part 37, may file a written complaint, either by him/herself or through a representative.” This language essentially means that anyone may file a complaint if s/he believes that discrimination is taking place within the One-Stop system, or that WIA Section 188 or the WIA nondiscrimination regulations are being violated. The complaint may be filed at the recipient level, under the procedures developed and published by the appropriate EO Officer, or at the Federal level with CRC, as the complainant chooses.

Example complaint information form: Appendix A

i) Determining Timeliness

Complaints alleging discrimination, to be timely, must be filed within 180 calendar days of the alleged discrimination. Only the Director of the Civil Rights Center has the authority to extend the 180 day time frame, even for complaints that are filed at the recipient level. Extensions are granted only for “good cause shown.” This means that the complainant must request an extension from the CRC Director and explain why the extension is justified. If the complainant fails to show good cause, the Director will deny the extension request.

ii) Determining Jurisdiction and Authority

Each complaint must be filed in writing, and must contain the following information:

  • The complainant's name and address (or another means of contacting the complainant);
  • The identity of the respondent (the individual or entity that the complainant alleges is responsible for the discrimination);
  • A description of the complainant's allegations. This description must include enough detail to allow the Director or the recipient, as applicable, to decide whether:
  1. CRC or the recipient, as applicable, has jurisdiction over the complaint;
  2. The complaint was filed in time; and
  3. The complaint has apparent merit; in other words, whether the complainant's allegations, if true, would violate any of the nondiscrimination and equal opportunity provisions of WIA or this part;
  • The complainant's signature or the signature of the complainant's authorized representative.

iii) Required Elements of Complaint Processing Procedures

29 CFR Part 37 outlines specific elements that must be addressed in a recipient’s complaint processing procedures. The State or the LWIA grant recipient, as provided in the State’s Methods of Administration, must develop and publish complaint processing procedures as required in 29 CFR § 37.76. Those procedures are applicable to the State or LWIA and the service providers within that State or LWIA. The procedures must include the following elements:

  • Initial written notice: This document must notify the complainant that the recipient has received the complaint, and inform the complainant of the right to representation.
  • Written statement of issues: This statement, which is to be provided to the Complainant, must list the issues raised, and for each issue, state whether the recipient will accept the issue for investigation or reject the issue. If an issue is rejected, the statement must include the reason for the rejection.
  • Process for Fact-finding: The recipient’s procedures must include a period for fact-finding or investigation of the circumstances underlying the complaint.
  • It is suggested that recipients establish a fact-finding process, explain how it works, state applicable time frames involved, and the identity of the individual or individuals responsible for the process.
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Process: The recipient’s procedures must include a period during which the recipient attempts to resolve the complaint. The methods available to resolve the complaint must include alternative dispute resolution (ADR). The choice whether to use ADR or the customary process rests with the complainant.
  • It is suggested that recipients state the specific ADR process they will use, the identity of the individuals(s) who will conduct ADR, how the process will operate, and applicable timeframes.
  • If the parties do not reach an agreement under ADR, the complainant may file a complaint with the Director of the CRC.
  • A party to any agreement reached under ADR may file a complaint with the Director in the event the agreement is breached. The non-breaching party may file a complaint with the Director within 30 days of the date on which the nonbreaching party learns of the alleged breach. The Director will evaluate the circumstances to determine whether the agreement has been breached. If he or she determines that the agreement has been breached, the complainant may file a complaint with CRC based upon his/her original allegation(s), and the Director will waive the time deadline for filing such a complaint.
  • Written Notice of Final Action: A Notice of Final Action must be provided to the complainant within 90 days of the date on which the complaint was filed. For each issue raised in the complaint, the Notice must contain the following:
  • The recipient’s decision on the issue and an explanation of the reasons underlying the decision, or
  • A description of the way the parties resolved the issue; and
  • Notice that the complainant has a right to file a complaint with CRC within 30 days of the date on which the complainant receives the Notice of Final Action if he/she is dissatisfied with the recipient’s final action on the complaint.

iv) Complaint Processing Sample Letters: Appendix B

v) Complaint Log

29 CFR § 37.37 (c) requires each recipient to maintain, and submit to the Civil Rights Center when requested, a log of complaints filed with it that allege discrimination on the ground(s) of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, political affiliation or belief, citizenship, and/or participation in a WIA Title I-financially assisted program or activity. The EO Officer should make sure that this log is being kept, as part of his/her overall monitoring responsibilities.

d) Monitoring compliance with the nondiscrimination and equal opportunity provisions of WIA and their implementing regulations.

Each Governor is required to establish one or more systems to monitor compliance by the State and its recipients with the nondiscrimination provisions of WIA and their implementing regulations. The system(s) must contain specific elements. Examples of some of the required elements:

  • a statistical or other quantifiable analysis of records and data, including analyses by race/ethnicity, sex, age, and disability status;
  • an investigation of any significant differences identified by the statistical or quantifiable analysis, to determine whether these differences appear to be caused by discrimination;
  • an assessment to determine whether the State and/or its recipients have fulfilled their administrative obligations under WIA Section 188 and 29 CFR part 37 (such as recordkeeping and providing notice and communication). CRC recommends that this assessment include a review of the State’s or recipient’s compliance with its obligations related to the designation of, and support for, its EO Officer;
  • policy communication and training to ensure that EO Officers and other relevant staff members are aware of and can effectively carry out their regulatory responsibilities; review of the State’s and its recipients’ job training plans, contracts, assurances, and other similar documents and agreements to ensure that they are both nondiscriminatory and contain required language regarding nondiscrimination and equal opportunity.

CRC recommends that States communicate monitoring requirements to their recipients. In addition, States must ensure that the required monitoring is occurring and that follow-up action is taken where necessary. The WIA nondiscrimination regulations place responsibility on each recipient’s EO Officer for ensuring that monitoring takes place.

Below are links to one possible tool that may be helpful in the monitoring process, DOL’s WIA Section 188 Disability Checklist, and to training about the Checklist that CRC has developed. We plan to update this toolkit periodically to provide links to additional monitoring instruments that may be useful. Additionally, the data analysis section of this toolkit provides information regarding how to analyze data to determine if there are significant differences across various groups.

e) Notice and Communication Requirements

As part of his/her overall monitoring responsibilities under the WIA nondiscrimination regulations, an EO Officer must ensure that the recipients for which s/he is responsible are complying with their legal obligations related to notice and communication. Those obligations are listed below.

The recipient must notify specified groups of individuals and entities that it is covered by the nondiscrimination provisions of WIA, and that those provisions grant specific rights. Each recipient must use two distinct types of notification in particular circumstances specified in the WIA nondiscrimination regulations:

  • the “Equal Opportunity is the Law” Notice
  • “tag lines” and other related information

The “Equal Opportunity is the Law” Notice. Recipients must use the exact text of the Notice that is provided in 29 CFR 37.30. That text explains:

  • that discrimination on specific listed bases (race, sex, disability, etc.) is against the law
  • where and when to file a discrimination complaint

29 CFR 37.29 contains a complete list of the categories of individuals and entities that must receive the Notice. Examples of these categories include:

  • Applicants/registrants
  • Participants
  • Applicants for employment / employees
  • Unions and professional organizations
  • Subrecipients
  • Members of the public
  • The regulations require that the Notice be distributed in specified ways, including, at a minimum:
  • Prominent posting on the recipient’s premises
  • Through internal memoranda and other communication methods
  • Inclusion in handbooks and manuals
  • Making the Notice available to each participant, and making it part of the participant’s file (29 CFR 37.31(a))
  • The regulations include specific requirements for providing the Notice to persons with disabilities:
  • The Notice must be communicated to such persons as effectively as to persons without disabilities, and
  • If the Notice is provided in an alternate format to a participant with a visual impairment, a record of that fact must be included in the participant’s file. (29 CFR 37.31(b))

The regulations also require that the Notice be communicated effectively to persons with limited English proficiency. (29 CFR 37.35). “Tag lines” and other related information. The WIA nondiscrimination regulations require that specific information must be included in any materials, publications, or broadcasts (including a recipient’s website) that:

  • Describe any programs or activities that receive financial assistance under WIA Title I, or
  • Explain the requirements for participation in such programs or activities.
  • This category includes materials and information that are distributed by any method, including:

  • orally
  • in writing
  • electronically
  • It also includes materials and information that are distributed to:
  • staff
  • clients
  • the public at large
  • Materials and information in this category must include two types of notice: “tag lines” and alternative contact numbers for persons with disabilities.
  • Tag lines. Materials in this category – including the websites of recipients such as One-Stop operators and service providers -- must include the exact text of the following two tag lines:
  • “Equal opportunity employer / program”
  • “Auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities”
  • The only exception to the requirement that the exact text be used is in cases in which the information is being published or broadcast by the news media, such as a newspaper or television or radio station. In those cases, the exact text of the tag lines need not be used, as long as the essential information in each of the tag lines is accurately conveyed.
  • Alternative contact numbers. If the materials, publications, or broadcasts in the category described above include a telephone number for voice contact with the recipient, they must include an alternative telephone number for contact with the recipient through a TDD/TTY or relay service.
  • Persons with Limited English Proficiency. The regulations also require that all information in the category described above must be provided in appropriate languages for persons with limited English proficiency.

Notice and Communication Resources:

CRC’s website contains not only the English version of the “Equal Opportunity is the Law” Notice, but also links to translations of the Notice into various other languages.* N.B.: These translations were developed by the States listed on the website, and have not been reviewed or approved by CRC.

*Note: The language specified in the English version of the Notice should not be changed; simply insert the name and contact information for the recipient’s Equal Opportunity Officer or designee, where indicated, and use the rest of the notice verbatim.

Disclaimer: Content provided in this toolkit does not create new legal obligations, and is not a substitute for the U.S. Code, Code of Federal Regulations, and Federal Register, which are the official sources for applicable statutes, regulations, notices, and other relevant documents.