Frequently Asked Questions
Who can file an EEO Complaint?
Any employee, former employee, or applicant for employment who believes they have been discriminated against on the basis(es) of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, reprisal, sexual orientation, status as a parent, or genetic information may file an EEO complaint.
What are the protected bases covered under the EEO process?
An EEO complaint may be filed on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, or retaliation for filing an EEO complaint or participating in the EEO process.
What if my issue(s) are not associated with one of the protected bases described above?
There are other processes established within the FWS to deal with issues not covered by one of the EEO bases. Contact your Regional Division of Diversity and Civil Rights or Office of Human Resources.
When must allegations of discrimination be raised?
An individual must seek counseling with an EEO Counselor within 45 calendar days of the date of an alleged act of discrimination, or harassment.
What are the steps in the EEO process?
The first step in addressing allegations of discrimination is to seek counseling with an EEO Counselor. Contact must be made within 45 calendar days of the alleged incident. The EEO Counselor has 30 calendar days to conduct a limited inquiry into the allegations, and attempt to resolve the matter at the level closest to the conflict. The individual seeking counseling may authorize an extension of counseling up to 60 calendar days. If the issue(s) are not resolved within 30 calendar days (or any extension), the EEO Counselor issues the individual a notice of final interview and right to file a formal EEO complaint.
What information should I present to the EEO Counselor?
When seeking counseling with an EEO Counselor, be prepared to make the following statement: "I was treated differently because of my [basis(es)] when on [date of event], the following happened [issue(s)]." Be prepared to discuss what remedies could resolve the issue(s). Supporting documentation and names of witnesses are also helpful information to present to the EEO Counselor.
What is the role of the EEO Counselor?
The EEO Counselor is a neutral. S/he is not an advocat or representative for you or management. The EEO Counselor will conduct a limited inquiry into the issue(s), and attempt early resolution.
What happens if my issue(s) are resolved in EEO counseling?
The resolution will be documented by the EEO Counselor in a Resolution Agreement which is signed by the individual and a representative of management. See Service's Settlement Authority Policy Manual Chapter for specific instructions for processing resolution/settlement agreements.
Where do I file a formal EEO complaint?
Formal EEO complaints are filed with the Chief, Branch of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, at the Washington Office; Departmental Office of Civil Rights (OCR); or the Secretary, Department of the Interior.
Am I allowed "official time" to work on an EEO complaint?
If the complainant is an employee of the agency, he/she shall have a reasonable amount of official time, if otherwise on duty, to prepare the complaint and to respond to agency and EEOC requests for information. Official time is measured in hours, not in days.
What happens after I file a formal EEO complaint?
Upon receipt of a formal EEO complaint, the Branch of Equal Opportunity and Diversity will review the complaint for acceptability, and either accept it for investigation or dismiss it. Once accepted for investigation, an EEO Investigator is assigned to complete a thorough investigation of the complaint. The FWS has 180 calendar days from the date you filed the complaint to complete the investigation and provide you with the Report of Investigation (ROI). You have 30 days from receipt of the ROI to select one of the courses of action described in the "election" notice: (1) HEARING: If you request a hearing before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you will have an opportunity to present witnesses and evidence on your behalf to an Administrative Judge; OR (2) FINAL AGENCY DECISION (FAD): The OCR will issue a final decision on your complaint within 60 calendar days after receipt of your notice of election for a final decision on the merits.
You may appeal the decision to EEOC within 30 days of your receipt of the final agency decision or notice of dismissal. In lieu of an appeal with the EEOC, you may, within 90 calendar days of the date of your receipt of the final decision or dismissal, file a civil action in an appropriate United States District Court. Also, you may file a civil action 180 calendar days after you filed your individual complaint if a final decision has not been issued and you have not appealed to EEOC.
How do I obtain the status of a formal EEO complaint I have already filed?
To obtain status of a formal EEO complaint, contact the Washington Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity.