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Your Right to Equal Employment Opportunity

Policy

It is Department of Labor's (DOL) policy to provide equal employment opportunity for all employees of DOL and applicants for DOL employment.

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

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

Bases

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

  • race
  • color
  • religion (including reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs or practices)
  • national origin (including ethnicity, accent, and use of a language other than English)
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, transgender status, gender identity, and sex stereotyping) sexual orientation*
  • age (40 and up)
  • disability (including reasonable accommodation of physical or mental disability) genetic information
  • marital status
  • parental status**
  • political affiliation or belief
  • retaliation for prior EEO protected activity

* The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has instructed Agencies to process claims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation as claims of discrimination on the basis of sex It has held that sexual orientation is a sex based consideration and that allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex. Complainants alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation have all of the same rights and obligations as those pursuing claims on other protected bases, including the right to a hearing before an EEO Administrative Judge (AJ).

**Parental status is a basis protected by Executive Order 13152 and not by federal statute. Complainants may request a final agency decision concerning claims of discrimination on the basis of status as a parent, but may not request a hearing from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or seek to appeal a final agency decision to the EEOC or Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

Pre-complaint Process

1. Filing

Complainant (a DOL employee or applicant for employment with DOL) must contact the Civil Rights Center (CRC) or an EEO counselor within 45 calendar days of the date of the matter alleged to be discriminatory, or in the case of a personnel action, within 45 calendar days of the effective date of the personnel action. Names of EEO counselors appear on posters in DOL buildings, on DOL's LaborNet website, or a Complainant may contact the Civil Rights Center (CRC) at (202)693-6500; Federal Relay Service TTY/TDD: (800) 877-8339; and/or Video Relay (877) 708-5797.

2. Counseling/ Mediation

An EEO Counselor will explain the complaint process and inform the Complainant of his/her rights and responsibilities. The Counselor will then begin fact-finding and attempt to resolve the matter informally within 30 calendar days from the date of the initial contact with the Complainant or the date that the Informal Complaint form is received. Counseling may be extended upon mutual agreement by the CRC and the Complainant up to 60 additional calendar days if more time is needed to attempt a resolution.

At the time of the initial interview, a Complainant may choose a process which attempts resolution through mediation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR). In this process, the 30 calendar day period may also be extended up to an additional 60 calendar days.

Formal Complaint Process

3. Filing

If counseling/mediation does not resolve the informal complaint, the Complainant may file a written formal complaint with the CRC Director, or with the Secretary of Labor, within 15 calendar days of receiving the "Notice of the Right to file a Discrimination Complaint" from the EEO Counselor.

4. Acceptance or Dismissal

If the complaint is accepted by the CRC, an investigator will be assigned to develop an impartial and appropriate investigation.

A Complainant may, without seeking EEO Counseling, amend a complaint prior to the conclusion of the investigation to include issues or claims like or related to those raised in the original complaint. Amendments must be submitted Director, Office of Internal Enforcement in writing (including via e-mail).

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

5. Investigation

The CRC is required to complete an investigation within 180 calendar days from the receipt of the formal complaint, with a possible extension for 90 additional calendar days, upon mutual agreement by the CRC and the Complainant. If the complaint is amended, the CRC must complete its investigation within 180 days after the last amendment or 360 days after the filing of the original complaint, whichever is sooner. When the investigation is completed, a Complainant will be provided with a Report of Investigation that contains all of the evidence gathered during the investigation.

After the investigation, within 30 calendar days of receipt of the Report of Investigation, most Complainants may request mediation, a final agency decision or a hearing from the EEOC.

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

6. DOL's Final Decision

If Complainant requests a final decision (or fails to make an election), the CRC Director or other authorized individual will issue the Department's decision on the complaint. The decision, based on information in the investigative file, is to be issued within 60 calendar days. The CRC will also issue a decision where neither a final decision nor a hearing has been requested.

7. EEOC Hearing

If the Complainant would like to request a hearing by an EEOC Administrative Judge (AJ), it should be done within 30 calendar days of receipt of the Report of Investigation. 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.

8. Appeals

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

9. Right to File a Civil Action

If complainant does not file an appeal with the OFO, they may file a civil action in an appropriate United States District Court within 90 calendar days of receipt of the final agency decision.

If complainant files an appeal and is then dissatisfied with the OFO's decision, they may request reconsideration 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 (ADEA) 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. A complainant also does not have to file an EEO complaint before filing a civil action under the Equal Pay Act (EPA), which prohibits discrimination based on sex in the payment of wages.

10. EEO Process vs. Union Process

Any employee within the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), Local 12, the National Council of Field Labor Locals (NCFLL), or the National Union of Labor Investigators (NULI) 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. The employee's choice will be determined by whichever event comes first, the date of the grievance or the date of the formal complaint. Should an employee within the NCFLL file an informal EEO complaint on the same issues as those raised in a grievance, the grievance will be held in abeyance. In the event that the DOL dismisses the EEO complaint for reasons other than on the merits, the NCFLL employee has 30 calendar days from receipt of the dismissal to resurrect the grievance.

11. Class Complaints

A class is a group of employees, former employees or applicants for employment who believe that a DOL policy or practice discriminates against members of the group (known as the "class") because of a common factor (race, color, religion, national origin, sex including gender identity and pregnancy, age, genetic information or disability). A member of the group (the "class agent") may file a class complaint in writing with the CRC alleging discrimination against the class.

Following EEO counseling, a formal class complaint may be filed within 15 days of receipt of the Notice of Right to File. Within 30 days of receiving the complaint, the CRC will forward the complaint and the counseling record to the EEOC for a determination on whether the class may be "certified." For this to occur, the following conditions must be established:

  • The class contains so many members that consolidated processing of individual complaints is not practical;
  • There are questions of fact common to the class;
  • Claims by the class agent are typical of the claims of the class; and
  • The agent or representative of the class will fairly and adequately protect the interests of all class members

A complainant may ask for EEOC class certification at any reasonable point in the process when it becomes apparent that there are class implications to the claim raised in an individual complaint.

Information

Additional information pertaining to the EEO complaint process may be obtained by contacting the Civil Rights Center (FPB, Room N4123, (202) 693-6500 or TTY/TTD: (800) 877-8339; Video Relay: (877) 709-5797.

Information pertaining to disability and DOL's Reasonable Accommodation Policy and Procedures may be obtained by contacting the CRC's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center (RARC) by Voice: (202) 693-6500; Fax: (202) 693-6505 Federal Relay Service: TTY/TDD: (800) 877-8339 Video Relay: (877) 709-5797 or Email: rarc.info@dol.gov


Disclaimer: The U.S. Department of Labor, Civil Rights Center, Office of Internal Enforcement has jurisdiction (authority) to process complaints of discrimination filed by employees of the U.S. Department of Labor or applicants for employment with the U.S. Department of Labor only. Information contained herein only pertains to employees/applicants with the U.S. Department of Labor.