Federal employees and job applicant are protected by law from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. They are also protected from retaliation if they oppose employment discrimination, file a complaint about discrimination, or participate in the EEO complaint process. A federal employee who has been discriminated against by a federal agency has the right to file an EEO complaint. In this blog, we explain how the EEO complaint process works.
The first step to take in the complaint process is contacting an EEO Counselor at the agency where the federal employee worked or applied for a job. The EEO Counselor usually must be contacted within 45 days from the day the discrimination occurred. The EEO Counselor will then offer the choice of participating either in EEO counseling or an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program. If the complainant doesn’t settle the dispute during counseling or through ADR, they can then file a discrimination complaint against the federal agency with the agency's EEO Office. This must be done within 15 days from the day they receive notice from their EEO Counselor about how to file.
After they file their complaint, the agency will review it and determine if the case should be dismissed for procedural reasons. If the complaint is not dismissed, the agency will begin an investigation. The agency has a 180 day time-frame from the time of the filing to complete their investigation. After the investigation has finished, the agency give the complainant 2 choices: request a hearing before an EEOC Administrative Judge or ask the agency to issue a decision as to whether or not the discrimination happened. If you disagree with the agency’s decision, you can appeal to EEOC or challenge it in federal district court.
Do you have more questions about the EEO complaint process? Contact our Houston team of federal employment attorneys today to find out how we can assist you.