It is the policy of the Department of Labor (DOL) to provide equal opportunity for all of its employees and applicants for employment with regard to the terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

Important aspects of an effective equal employment opportunity (EEO) program are a strong affirmative employment program and a discrimination complaint processing system that facilitates early informal resolution of complaints.

This poster provides specific information on how the administrative EEO complaint process works.


Complaints of discrimination may be filed by a DOL employee or applicant for DOL employment who believes he or she has been discriminated against on the basis of:

  • race
  • color
  • religion
  • national origin
  • sex, including sexual harassment
  • age (40 and up)
  • disability (physical or mental)
  • reprisal for prior EEO protected activity
  • parental status*
  • sexual orientation*

* Sexual orientation and parental status are bases protected by Executive Orders 13087 and 13152, respectively, and not by Federal EEO statute. Complainants may request a final agency decision concerning claims of discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and/or status as a parent, but may not request a hearing from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or seek to appeal a final agency action to the EEOC or the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).


Precomplaint Process


Complainant (a DOL employee or job applicant) must contact an EEO Counselor within 45 calendar days of an alleged discriminatory action, or in the case of a personnel action, within 45 calendar days of the effective date of action. Names of EEO Counselors appear on posters in DOL buildings, on DOL’s LaborNet and RegionNet websites, or you may contact the Civil Rights Center (CRC) or a Civil Rights Officer located in the regions.


An EEO Counselor will begin fact-finding and attempt to resolve the matter informally within 30 calendar days from the date of the initial interview with Complainant. Counseling may be extended upon agreement of both the CRC and Complainant up to 60 additional days if more time is needed to achieve a resolution.

The Complainant may elect, at the time of the initial interview, a process which attempts resolution through mediation. In this process, the 30-day period may also be extended up to an additional 60 calendar days.


Formal Complaint Process

If resolution is not achieved during EEO counseling, Complainant may file a written formal complaint with the Director, CRC, or with the Secretary of Labor, within 15 calendar days of receiving the “Notice of Right to File a Discrimination Complaint.”


If the complaint is accepted by the CRC, an investigator will be assigned to collect relevant information pertaining to the complaint.

If the complaint or portions are dismissed, Complainant will be provided in writing, the reason(s) for dismissal and informed of his/her right to appeal the decision.


The CRC is required to complete an investigation within 180 calendar days of receipt of the formal complaint, with a possible extension for 90 additional calendar days, upon mutual agreement by the CRC and Complainant.

After the investigation, within 30 calendar days of receipt of the Investigative Report, Complainant may request: mediation*; DOL's final agency action; or a hearing by the EEOC.

If the investigation is not completed after 180 calendar days has elapsed from the filing of the complaint, Complainant may also request a hearing from the EEOC or file a civil action in U.S. District Court.

*Mediation/Alternative Dispute Resolution may be requested at any time during the formal complaint process.


EEOC Hearing
Complainant may request a hearing by an EEOC Administrative Judge (AJ) within 30 calendar days of receipt of the Investigative Report. The AJ may conduct a hearing and submit his/her decision within 180 calendar days of the request. If DOL does not appeal the AJ’s decision, or issue a final agency action, the AJ's decision becomes the final decision of the Department 40 calendar days after it is received.


DOL's Final Decision
If Complainant requests a final agency decision, the Director, CRC, will issue a decision based on information in the investigative file within 60 calendar days. The Director will also issue a decision where neither a final decision nor a hearing has been requested.


If Complainant is dissatisfied with the final agency action issued by DOL, s/he may appeal to the EEOC's Office of Federal Operations (OFO) within 30 calendar days of receipt of the final agency action.


Right To File Civil Action
If Complainant does not file an appeal with the OFO, s/he may file a civil action in an appropriate United States District Court within 90 calendar days of receipt of the final agency action.

If Complainant files an appeal and is then dissatisfied with the OFO's decision, s/he may request reconsideration by the EEOC of the OFO’s decision within 20 calendar days of receipt of the OFO’s decision; or may file a civil action in a U.S. District Court within 90 calendar days of receipt of the OFO’s decision on appeal. A civil action may also be filed if the OFO does not issue a decision within 180 calendar days from the date that the appeal was filed.

A Complainant who raises a claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act may bypass the administrative process by filing a notice of intent to sue with the EEOC at least 30 calendar days before filing a civil action in court.


EEO vs Union Process

Any employee within the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), Local 12, the National Union of Labor Investigators, Independent (NULI), or the National Council of Field Labor Locals (NCFLL) bargaining units may file allegations of discrimination under the negotiated grievance procedures of their respective union. Employees within Local 12 or NULI must choose whether the allegations of discrimination will be processed under the negotiated grievance procedure or under the EEO complaint procedure. Election will be determined by whichever event comes first, the date of the grievance or the date of the formal complaint. Employees within the NCFLL who file formal EEO complaints on the same issues as those raised in a grievance will effectively terminate the grievance. In the event that the DOL dismisses that EEO complaint for reasons other than on merit, the NCFLL employee has 30 calendar days from receipt of the dismissal to resurrect the grievance.


Class Complaints

In the national office, class complaints are initiated by contacting the National Coordinator of Counselors in the CRC, who will assign the complaint to the appropriate agency EEO Manager for counseling.

In the regions, class complaints are initiated by contacting the Civil Rights Officer, who will also conduct counseling.


Additional information pertaining to the EEO complaint process may be obtained from DOL’s LaborNet and RegionNet websites; or by contacting the Civil Rights Center (FPB, Room N4123, 202/693-6500 or TTY: 202/693-6515 or 6516), or Ms. Lillian Winstead at (202)693-6548 National Office EEO Counselor.