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Complaints Processing Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions:
  1. Who may file an EEO complaint?
  2. What are the time limits for filing?
  3. What is the procedure for filing an EEO complaint?
  4. What is the role of the EEO counselor?
  5. What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
  6. What happens if a formal complaint is filed?
  7. What happens if a hearing is requested?
  8. What happens if a final decision is requested?
  9. How long does it take to process a complaint?
  10. Is the complaint process confidential?
  11. Is it possible to have a complaint processed anonymously?
  12. Can a complainant have a representative?
  13. What organization on post is authorized to process precomplaints?
  14. What action can management take against an employee who files an EEO complaint?
  15. Must an employee use his/her leave to attend complaint related meetings?
  16. Can an employee file an EEO complaint and a grievance on the same matter?
  17. Can military file EEO complaints?
  18. Who has the authority to accept and/or dismiss a formal complaint?
  19. Is it necessary to go through the precomplaint process before a formal complaint can be filed?

 

1Who may file an EEO complaint?  

Any employee, former employee, or job applicant who believes that he or she has been discriminated against because of race, sex (including sexual harassment), sexual orientation, color, national origin, religion, age, physical or mental disability, genetic information, or reprisal for previous EEO activity may file an EEO complaint.

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2What are the time limits for filing?

Complaints must be filed not later than 45 calendar days following an alleged discriminatory incident, act, or event;   the effective date of an alleged discriminatory personnel action; or the date that the Complainant knew, or reasonably should have known, of the event or personnel action.

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3. What is the procedure for filing an EEO complaint?  

Any Aggrieved Person seeking to file a complaint should contact the EEO Office.  An "intake" interview will be processed and a counselor will be assigned to conduct an informal inquiry.

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4. What is the role of the EEO counselor? 

The EEO counselor is responsible to obtain information and attempt to resolve the precomplaint.  The counselor has 30 days from the initial interview to resolve the precomplaint.  If it appears that resolution is possible, given more time, the aggrieved person may agree, in writing, to extend counseling for an additional period of time, not to exceed 60 days.  If the precomplaint is not resolved, the EEO counselor will conduct a final interview and the aggrieved will be given a written notice of the right to file a formal complaint.

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5. What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

ADR is the use of a technique other than continued processing in the traditional EEO complaint system to settle the precomplaint.  The civil Rights Act of 1991 encourages agencies to use ADR to resolve complaints, and complaint processing regulations encourages agencies to use ADR. 

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6. What happens if a formal complaint is filed? 

Formal complaints may be filed with the EEO Officer within 15 days of the final interview with the EEO counselor.  The EEO Officer accepts or dismisses the complaint within 15 days and an investigator is requested.  The aggrieved may file an appeal if the EEO officer does not accept the complaint.   After the complaint is investigated, a Report of Investigation (ROI) is sent to the complaint with a summary of appeal rights.  A request for a hearing may be submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  Complaints based on sexual orientation cannot be heard by or appealed to the EEOC.

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7. What happens if a hearing is requested?  

If a hearing is requested, the aggrieved sends a request to the EEOC.  The EEOC may decide to conduct a hearing, or if few facts are in dispute, the EEOC may issue findings and conclusions without a hearing.  If a hearing is granted, it is conducted by an EEOC Administrative Judge.  Both the complainant and management have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.  The Administrative Judge determines the relevance of witnesses.  The EEOC has 180 days from the date of the hearing request in which to hold the hearing and issue its findings and conclusions to the Agency.  Within 60 days of receiving the EEOCs findings and conclusions and grant the relief ordered by the Administrative Judge, or the Agency may issue a final decision rejecting or modifying the findings and conclusions or the relief.

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8. What happens if a final decision is requested? 

An agency must issue a final decision within 60 days of a complainant's request for a decision.  The final decision consists of findings by the agency on the merits of each issue in the complaint and appeal rights to the EEOC.  The final decision must also contain a notice of the right to file a civil action in Federal District Court.

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9. How long does it take to process a complaint?  

Federal agencies have 180 days from the filing date of a formal complaint to investigate the complaint and issue an ROI to the complainant.

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10. Is the complaint process confidential?  

The EEO staff, including collateral duty counselors, may not divulge the name of a person until the individual signs a release.  Any employee or applicant may visit the EEO office or speak to a collateral duty counselor in confidence.  It is difficult to inquire about problems without releasing information, however, complaints are held in strict confidence.  

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11. Is it possible to have a complaint processed anonymously?  

During the precomplaint stage, an aggrieved person may request and receive anonymity. However, during the formal stage, anonymity cannot be granted.

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12. Can a complainant have a representative?  

A complainant has the right to a representative at any point in the complaint process.  This may be a relative, friend, co-worker, or attorney.  However, EEO counselors, EEO assistants, EEO specialists, EEO managers, or any employee whose official position may create a conflict of interest cannot be a representative.  Reimbursement for attorneys' fees is possible only for formal complaints and only after supporting documentation is approved.

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13What organization on post is authorized to process precomplaints?

The EEO office in Clark Hall is the authority on Fort Drum.
Address: 10180 4th Armored Division Drive, Fort Drum, NY, 13602  

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14. What action can management take against an employee who files an EEO complaint?  

Section 704a of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as amended, prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for filing an EEO complaint.

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15. Must an employee use his/her leave to attend complaint related meetings

No.  An employee involved in the complaint process (as the aggrieved, a representative, or witness) is entitled to a reasonable amount of official time.  However, this time must be requested before the meeting or appointment.

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16. Can an employee file an EEO complaint and a grievance on the same matter? 

No.  An employee cannot file both a formal complaint and a grievance on the same matter. However, a person who has filed a grievance can receive EEO counseling.  An election of the EEO process is considered to have been made at the point the formal complaint is filed.

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17Can military members file EEO complaints?  

Military Equal Opportunity discrimination is addressed under different regulations.  Military members should contact Equal Opportunity at 772-9226 or 772-9174.  

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18. Who has the authority to accept and/or dismiss a formal complaint?  

The EEO Officer may accept or dismiss complaints.  Some reasons for dismissing a complaint may include:  Untimeliness in bringing a matter to the attention of an EEO counselor; untimeliness in filing a formal complaint; failure to state a claim covered by the EEO statutes; the matter being complained about was the subject of a grievance; the matter has been appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board; the matter has become moot; the aggrieved cannot be located; or the aggrieved refuses to accept an offer of full relief.

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19. Is it necessary to go through the precomplaint process before a formal complaint can be filed?  

Yes.  Federal sector regulations require that all EEO complaints proceed through EEO counseling.  Counseling provides agencies an opportunity to resolve complaints at the lowest level.

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