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Civil Rights

MISSION: To provide counsel and recommendations to the Director on civil rights for all clients and employees.

VISION: A diverse workforce that, by reflecting the face of the Caribbean Area, will provide equal opportunity and quality of service to all customers.
Deputy EEO Official EEO Liaison Officer
Edwin Almodóvar, Director José A. Castro, ASTC-Programs
Phone: 787-766-5206 Ext. 115 Phone: 787-766-5206 Ext. 117
Fax: 787-766-5987 Fax: 787-766-5987
E-mail: E-mail:

Civil Rights Committee

Advisor and Ethics Officer

Elizabeth Hernández, Human Resources Manager
Phone: 787-766-5206, Ext. 129; Fax: 787-766-5245

Committee Members
Name / E-Mail, Program Title Telephone Fax
Manuel Matos, Chair 787-831-3101 x.108 787-831-3315
Nilda González, Administrative Assistant to the Director 787-766-5206 x.116 787-766-5987
Fernando Arroyo, Civil Rights Advisor/ Liaison, ASTC Field Operations 787-766-5206 x.120 787-766-5987
Mario Rodríguez, Civil Rights Advisor 787-831-3101 x.116 787-831-2141
Lydia Collazo, Federal Women's & GLBT Special Emphasis Program Manager 787-743-2743 x.112 787-746-7736
Rafael Sierra, Hispanic Special Emphasis Program Manager 787-859-2880, x.112 787-859-0296
Yadira Feliciano, American Indian/ Alaskan Special Emphasis Program Manager 787-831-3416, x.104 787-837-3145
Asian/ Pacific Islander Special Emphasis Program Manager    
Michelle Catoni, Disability Special Emphasis Program Manager 787-896-3565, x. 105 787-896-5810
Rudy G. O'Reilly, Jr., Black Special Emphasis Program Manager & Member at Large for USVI 340-692-9662 x. 106 340-692-9607
Luis García, Veteran's Special Emphasis Program Manager & Member at Large for PR 787-766-5206 x. 132 787-766-5987
Israel Vega, District Conservationist workforce representative 787-894-1480, x. 111 787-894-6196
Vivian Vera, Soil Conservation Technician workforce representative 787-743-2743, x. 109 787-746-7736
Julie Wright, Outreach Coordinator 340-692-9662 x. 107 340-692-9607

Caribbean Area Civil Rights Outreach

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Employment Information

Discrimination Complaint Process

Elizabeth Hernández - Human Resources Manager, Caribbean Area State Office, 787-766-5206 x. 129

If you believe you have been discriminated against because of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), religion, age (if over 40), national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or reprisal for equal employment activities, in an employment matter or in the workplace, and wish to initiate an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint, you must contact your EEO counselor within 45 days of the alleged discriminatory action. Contact the USDA-NRCS Civil Rights Employment Division at 301-504-2181 for assignment of an EEO counselor or visit the NRCS Civil Rights Division EEO Complaint site for more information.

NRCS Civil Rights Employment Division
5601 Sunnyside Avenue
Mail Stop #5472
Belstville, MD 20705-5472

Sexual Harassment Contact (Training & Concerns)

  • Elizabeth Hernández, Human Resources Manager, Caribbean Area State Office, 787-766-5206 x. 129
  • Sexual Harassment Hotline: 1-888-FIGHT IT (1-888-344-4848)

    For information, advice, or assistance, call this toll free number from any phone. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. An NRCS staff member will respond during a 8-hour, workday. If a person is away from the desk, or if you call outside work hours, or on a weekend, an answering machine - one solely dedicated to this hotline which remains in a private, locked office - will tape whatever information you care to disclose.

Employee Assistance Program

Confidential, professional counseling is available at no cost to NRCS employees, provided by The Sand Creek Group, Ltd., Stillwater, MN.  They can help you deal with difficult problems (relationship issues, separation or divorce concerns, alcohol or other chemical abuse, concerns about your job, loss and grief, financial crisis, parent/child difficulties, and many other personal problems. 

  • Phone: 1-888-243-5744 or
  • TDD # 1-800-627-3529

Hispanic and Women Farmer / Rancher Claims Information (Atencion a todos Agricultores o Ganaderos Hispanos y a Mujeres Agricultoras y Ganaderas)

As part of continued efforts to close the chapter on allegations that discrimination occurred at USDA in past decades, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Assistant Attorney General Tony West have established a process to resolve the claims of Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who assert that they were discriminated against when seeking USDA farm loans. The program will provide up to $50,000 for each Hispanic or woman farmer who can show that USDA denied them a loan or loan servicing for discriminatory reasons for certain time periods between 1981 and 2000. Individuals interested in participating in the claims process may register to receive a claims package, or may obtain more information, by visiting Completed Claims must be submitted by May 1, 2013.

Related Links

USDA Equal Opportunity Statement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or a part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Elizabeth Hernández, Human Resources Manager, 787-766-5206, x. 129