../plan.css"> The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Overview of Federal Sector EEO Counseling and Complaint Process

[29 C.F.R. PART 1614]

Employees or applicants who believe that they have been discriminated against by a federal agency, because of an Incident that occurred, have the right to file a complaint with that agency. The first step is to contact an EEO Counselor at the agency for Counseling. The person can participate in counseling or in ADR (alternative dispute resolution) when the agency offers it. At the end of counseling, or if ADR is unsuccessful, the individual is given Notice of their right to file a complaint with the agency.

Once the Complaint is Filed, the agency must conduct an investigation, unless the Complaint is Dismissed. If dismissed, the complainant can Appeal to the EEOC.

If a complaint is one containing one or more issues that must be appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the complaint is a "mixed case." It is then processed under the Board's procedures. For all other EEO complaints, the Complaint is Investigated and a Notice is Issued by the agency.

The complainant can Request a Hearing before an EEOC administrative judge or, if a Hearing is Not Requested, the complainant can request an immediate decision from the agency. Where a decision is requested, the agency issues a Final Decision, which the complainant can Appeal to the EEOC.

Where a hearing is requested, the administrative judge holds a hearing, issues a Decision and sends it to both parties. The judge can also dismiss the case without a hearing. If a hearing is held and discrimination is found, the administrative judge orders appropriate relief. After receiving the decision, the agency can issue a final order accepting the administrative judge's decision or it can choose not to issue an order, however, the decision automatically becomes the agency's final order after 40 days. In either case, the order is the Agency Final Action (Implementation). A dissatisfied complainant may Appeal an agency's final action to the EEOC or, if the complainant believes that the agency is not implementing the order satisfactorily, the person can Appeal to the EEOC.

If the agency notifies the complainant that it will not fully implement the decision of the administrative judge, the agency must file an Appeal with the EEOC. Once EEOC issues a decision on the appeal, either party can Request Reconsideration. Finally, a complainant can file a Civil Action in federal court if he/she is dissatisfied with the final decision from the appeal.

This page was last modified on May 3, 2001.

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