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How Do Employees File an EEO Complaint?

Filing an EEO Complaint of Discrimination

Who can file an EEO Complaint?
USDA employees and applicants for employment who believe they have been subjected to employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (if 40 or over), disability, reprisal (for prior participation in an EEO activity or having opposed discrimination).

Where to File an EEO Complaint?
An employee or applicant, who believes he/she has been discriminated against, must contact the NRCS, Civil Rights Office. This contact can be made through telephone, fax, e-mail, or letter. The initial contact can be made with any person in the EEO office.

When can an Employee file an EEO Complaint?
An employee or applicant, who believes he/she has been discriminated against, must contact the NRCS, Civil Rights Office, within 45 days of the alleged discriminatory event or from when he/she becomes aware that a discriminatory event has occurred to file and EEO complaint.

An employee or applicant who believes they have been discriminated against can only file an EEO Complaint after they have completed the pre-complaint process of counseling.

What is the pre-complaint process?
The EEO complaint process consists of the pre-complaint process (informal process) in which the complainant make the initial contact with the EEO counselor, and the formal process. If an employee or applicant, who believes he/she has been discriminated against wish to file an EEO complaint, they must begin with the pre-complaint process.

What happens at the initial contact with the EEO counselor?
At the pre-complaint process the complainant makes an initial contact with an EEO Counselor. During the initial contact the counselor will assist the complainant in clarifying and defining the issue(s) and basis(es) of their complaint. If the basis does not fall with the purview of EEO the Counselor will offer other avenues of redress to the complaint. If it is determined that the complaint falls within the purview of EEO the EEO counselor will explain the difference between Traditional Counseling and the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process and will advise the complainant that they may elect to seek resolution of their EEO Complaint between Traditional Counseling or through the ADR process. The complainant makes their election by completing and returning an election form to the counselor immediately or as soon as possible from the date of the initial contact.

During the initial contact the Counselor explains their role in the pre-complaint process to facilitated resolution: provide information and guidance about the EEO Complaint

Process: explain appropriate timeframes: and also advise complainants about their rights and responsibilities within the process.

What happens after the initial contact in the pre-complaint process?
In the pre-complaint stage, if the complainant chooses Traditional Counseling the EEO Counselor has 30 calendar days to complete a limited inquiry to attempt resolution of the EEO complaint. The Counselor works with both management and the complainant to work toward resolution. If a resolution is reached and the parties agree, then the complainant withdraws their complaint. If no resolution is reached then, the complainant is issued a Notice of Right to File (NRF) a Formal Complaint of Discrimination. Once the NRF is received the complainant has 15 calendar days from the day they receive the NRF to file their complaint of discrimination with the USDA Office of Civil Rights (OCR).