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Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Complaints

The EEO process is available to Department of Labor (DOL) employees or applicants for DOL employment who believe they have been discriminated against by DOL on the bases of race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including sexual harassment, gender identity, pregnancy and gender-based wage discrimination), age (40 and up), disability (physical or mental, including failure to accommodate), genetic information, sexual orientation, parental status or retaliation for prior EEO protected activity.

Precomplaint Process — Filing

An aggrieved individual (a DOL employee or applicant for employment with DOL) 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 or on DOL's LaborNet, or you may contact the Civil Rights Center (CRC) at (202) 693-6500; Federal Relay Service: TTY/TDD: (800) 877-8339/ Video Relay: (877) 709-5797 .


The EEO counselor (a DOL employee or a contract investigator) explains the EEO complaint process and informs the aggrieved individual about his or her rights and responsibilities. The counselor makes whatever informal inquiry s/he believes is appropriate to define the issue and aids in an attempt to resolve the complaint. An EEO counselor will conduct fact-finding within 30 calendar days from the date of the initial contact with the aggrieved individual. Counseling may be extended upon agreement of both the CRC and the aggrieved individual up to 60 additional days if more time is needed to attempt a resolution. The aggrieved individual may elect, at the time of initial contact, a process which attempts resolution through mediation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR). In this process, the 30-day period may also be extended up to an additional 60 calendar days.

Formal Complaint Process — Filing

If a resolution is not achieved during EEO counseling, the aggrieved individual 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 a complaint is accepted, an investigator will be assigned by the CRC to conduct an impartial and appropriate investigation of the alleged discrimination. An investigator (a DOL employee or a contract investigator) will be authorized to conduct the investigation, and may administer oaths to obtain sworn or affirmed testimony without a pledge of confidentiality from any witness deemed relevant.

A complainant may amend a formal complaint (without seeking EEO counseling) at any time prior to the dismissal of the complaint or the conclusion of the investigation. Complaints may be amended to include issues or claims like or related to those raised in the original complaint. Amendments should be submitted to the CRC Director in writing.

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


The investigator compiles a Report of Investigation containing relevant testimony and other documentary evidence sufficient to allow the CRC to draw conclusions about whether discrimination occurred. The investigator makes no findings or recommendations, but has the discretion to determine relevant witnesses and documentation to include in the Report.  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.  When a complaint has been 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 date occurs first.

After the investigation, within 30 calendar days of receipt of the Report of Investigation, most complainants may request: DOL's final agency action or a hearing by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

If the investigation is not completed after 180 calendar days from the filing of the complaint, most complainants may proceed without delay to request a hearing from the EEOC or file a civil action in U.S. District Court.

EEOC Hearing

Most complainants may request a hearing by an EEOC Administrative Judge (AJ) 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.

DOL's Final Decision

If complainant requests a final agency decision, the CRC Director or his or her designee will issue a decision based on information in the Report of Investigation within 60 calendar days. The CRC will also issue a decision where neither a final decision nor a hearing has been requested.


If complainant is dissatisfied with the DOL final agency decision, most may appeal to the EEOC's Office of Federal Operations (OFO) within 30 calendar days of receipt of the final agency decision.

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 decision.

If complainant files an appeal and is then dissatisfied with the OFO's decision, s/he 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 administrative complaint before filing a civil action under the Equal Pay Act (EPA), which prohibits discrimination based on sex in the payment of wages.

EEO vs Union Process

Any employee within the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), Local 12, or the National Union of Labor Investigators, Independent (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. Election will be determined by whichever event comes first, the date of the grievance or the date of the formal complaint. Employees represented by the National Council of Field Labor Locals (NCFLL) are specifically excluded from filing grievances alleging discrimination. In the event an employee represented by the NCFLL files a grievance and an informal EEO complaint on the same matter, the grievance will be held in abeyance. If a formal EEO complaint is filed, the grievance will be terminated. However, in the event that the DOL dismisses that EEO complaint for reasons other than on merit, the NCFLL represented employee has 30 days from receipt of the dismissal to resurrect the grievance.

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.


Additional information may be obtained from DOL's LaborNet; or by contacting the Civil Rights Center (FPB, Room N4123, 202/693-6500 or Federal Relay Service: TTY/TDD: (800) 877-8339/ Video Relay: (877) 709-5797

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.