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Update – April 6, 2020 Memorandum on Processing Information

Memorandum

TO: Federal Sector EEO Directors & Officials 
FROM: 

Carlton M. Hadden 
Director, Office of Federal Operations

SUBJECT: Update – April 6, 2020 Memorandum on Processing Information

We issued a memorandum dated April 6, 2020 regarding the processing of federal sector EEO complaints covered by 29 CFR Part 1614 in consideration of the National Emergency. The memorandum is attached for your ease of reference.

The EEOC reiterates its appreciation of the critical work of federal EEO professionals during this time of challenge due to the Coronavirus (COVID-9).  Your dedication is essential to ensuring access to the federal sector EEO process for all who need to utilize it.

The EEOC previously recognized that, because of the National Emergency, applicants who utilize the EEO complaint process might have faced challenges that precluded them from meeting the regulatory timeframes set forth in 29 CFR Part 1614.

Using phased approaches, several agencies and organizations have resumed fuller operations. EEOC believes that there are now fewer issues related to access to counsel and the Courts, and that further delays could negatively impact applicants’ ability to protect and exercise their rights effectively.

Therefore, we are adjusting three of the instructions set forth in the April 6, 2020, memo. As discussed in further detail below, EEOC is instructing agencies to return to issuing final actions in the usual manner, unless there are compelling reasons not to do so. Effective Monday, July 27, 2020, EEOC will also expand its issuance of appellate decisions.

Instruction 6 provided as follows:

The EEOC is deeply concerned about protecting (and committed to ensuring every federal employee continues to have) all their rights during this time of National Emergency. To that end, EEOC asks agency EEO offices to continue counseling employees, accepting their discrimination complaints, and investigating these complaints to the fullest extent possible without undermining mission-critical functions. We ask agencies not to issue final actions on any EEO complaint, unless the investigation is complete, and the Complainant has requested that the final action be issued. 

Instruction 7 provided as follows:

EEOC will continue to prepare appellate decisions but will not mail those decisions. A Complainant who provides an e-mail address and waives first class mailing may request the decision via e-mail to ofo.eeoc@eeoc.gov .  The Commission is extremely cognizant of preserving a party’s right to file a civil action in U.S. District Court.  Given the current National Emergency, the Commission is suspending issuance of all appellate decisions via the U. S. mail until further notice in order to best preserve those rights. 

Instruction 8 provided as follows:

Until further notice, OFO does not have access to U.S. Mail; rather, we ask that all submissions and communications from both agencies and complainants be digital, via the Public Portal/FEDSEP. We ask those who submitted items via U.S. Mail on or after March 6, 2020 to resubmit them via the Public Portal/FEDSEP.

The Instructions, noted above, are modified as follows:

Instruction 6 as modified, follows:

The EEOC remains deeply concerned about protecting (and committed to ensuring every federal employee continues to have) all their rights during this time of National Emergency. To that end, EEOC asks agency EEO offices to continue counseling employees, accepting their discrimination complaints, and investigating these complaints to the fullest extent possible without undermining mission-critical functions. Agencies should return to issuing final actions.

Instruction 7 as modified, follows:

EEOC is expanding issuance of appellate decisions. While the complainant may receive the appellate decision via U.S. Mail, a complainant who has an account with EEOC’s Public Portal, may waive receipt via U.S. Mail, and receive the decision via the EEOC Public Portal. Please note that there may be delays in the issuance of decisions sent by first class mail depending on staff access to EEOC’s headquarters. Federal agencies will receive the appellate decision via the FedSEP digital platform.

Instruction 8 as modified, follows:

While OFO has limited access to U.S. Mail; parties are encouraged to utilize the Commission’s digital platforms, such as the EEOC Public Portal or FedSEP, to communicate with OFO.

With the exceptions of the modifications noted above, the Instructions as set forth in the April 6, 2020 memorandum continue to remain in effect.

Each agency subject to the regulations at 29 CFR Part 1614 is directed to forward a copy of this update and notice, using the most effective available method, to each Complainant with a pending EEO matter and to each person who hereafter contacts an agency EEO counselor or otherwise enters into the agency’s EEO process.