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Traditional Counseling Fact Sheet | Civil Rights Division | NRCS

WHAT IS TRADITIONAL EEO COUNSELING?
Traditional EEO counseling is one of the resolution options available to an aggrieved party or Complainant in the Federal EEO complaint process. Traditional EEO Counseling is designed to provide both parties an opportunity to express and resolve their issues, interests and concerns in an informal and non-adversarial environment. The process is divided into several stages. Each stage provides each party with a considerable amount of information to better assist them in making an informed decision.

WHY DO I NEED AN EEO COUNSELOR?
The EEO Counselor must advise the employee/Complainant of his/her rights and responsibilities during the initial counseling session. The EEO Counselor conducts a limited inquiry to determine what facts will be needed to resolve the issues that the Complainant has alleged in his/her EEO complaint. The EEO Counselor serves as a neutral party whose primary function is fact finding and attempting to conciliate employment issues during the Pre-Complaint stage of the process. The EEO Counselor works to resolve the issues as quickly as possible and with the minimum possible interference with the operations of the workplace. The Counselor's role does not include a determination of either the existence or non-existence of illegal discrimination nor the making of value judgments.

WHAT IS EXPECTED OF ME AS THE COMPLAINANT?
The Complainant must cooperate and communicate with the Counselor to provide information pertaining to the complaint that may be requested by the Counselor. Also, he/she must respond, in good faith, to any offers of resolution made by management. Additionally, the Complainant will provide the EEO Counselor with the following information:

  • WHO: Identify the individuals who are the decision makers in the alleged discriminatory treatment. Are they supervisors, managers or co workers?
  • WHAT: Identify the nature of the alleged discrimination. Is it related to a termination, a suspension, work assignments, etc.?
  • WHERE: Identify the location of the incident/discriminatory act, and witnesses, if any.
  • WHY: Identify the job related reason why you believe the alleged discriminatory action occurred. Are you comparing your situation to others that may have been treated differently for the same or similar event?
  • WHEN: The EEO Counselor must be contacted within 45 calendars from the date that the alleged discrimination occurred.
  • HOW: Identify how management actions influenced the decision or motivated the discriminatory act.

WHAT IS A REMEDY?
The EEOC's policy is to seek full and effective relief for each and every victim of discrimination. These remedies may include, but are not limit to:

  • Posting a notice to all employees advising them of their rights under the laws EEOC enforces and their right to be free from retaliation.
  • Corrective or preventive actions taken to resolve or correct the source of the identified discrimination.
  • Nondiscriminatory placement in the position the victim would have occupied if the discrimination had not occurred.
  • Compensatory damages.
  • Back pay (with interest where applicable), lost benefits.
  • Stopping the specific discriminatory practices involved.

HOW LONG WILL THE PRE-COMPLAINT PROCESS TAKE?
In order to resolve an EEO informal complaint/EEO dispute, the agency and the complainant must agree on a solution. However, if resolution is not achieved within 30 calendar days from initial contact, or with a written authorization from the complainant to extend counseling, not to exceed 60 days, the Counselor must advise the complainant in writing of their right to file a formal complaint and the time limit for doing so. This is known as issuing the Notice of Right to File (NRF) a formal complaint. The complainant has fifteen (15) calendar days from the date s/he receives the NRF to file a formal complaint with USDA's Office of Adjudication and Compliance.