061 FW 4
Settlement Authority

Supersedes Director’s Order 134, 05/29/02

Date:  September 23, 2008

Series: Equal Opportunity

Part 061: Complaint Processing and Adjudication

Originating Office: Branch of Equal Opportunity and Diversity

 

 

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4.1 What is the purpose of this chapter? This chapter provides policy and procedures for approving all settlement agreements resulting from Service Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) actions at both the pre-complaint and formal stages, including:

 

A. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) hearings,

 

B. Personnel actions (performance-based, adverse actions, or administrative grievances), and

 

C. The Conflict Resolution (CORE) PLUS Program.

 

4.2 What is the scope of this chapter? This chapter applies to all Service employees who prepare, negotiate, review, and approve EEO, CORE PLUS, or personnel action settlement agreements.

 

4.3 What are the authorities for this chapter? You can find the authorities for all the chapters in Part 061 in 061 FW 1.

 

4.4 Who is responsible for the settlement authority policy?

 

A. The Assistant Director – Budget, Planning and Human Resources approves all settlements involving monetary payments or material benefit.

 

B. Assistant Directors and Regional Directors:

 

(1) Ensure that all settlements within their areas of responsibility comply with this policy, and

 

(2) Approve settlements that do not involve monetary payments or material benefit.

 

C. The Chief, Branch of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (Bureau EEO Officer):

 

(1) Develops policies and procedures related to settlement authority, and

 

(2) Monitors the implementation of EEO settlement agreements to ensure full compliance with this chapter.

 

4.5 What terms do you need to know to understand this chapter?

 

A. Monetary Payments are back pay, compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees, interest, or lump sum payments of any kind.

 

B. Compensatory Damages are monetary awards for pecuniary and non-pecuniary (see sections 4.5D and E) losses that are alleged to be caused by discrimination.

 

C. Material Benefit may include, but is not limited to, such items as:

 

(1) Promotion,

 

(2) Training, if the training will qualify the employee for a non-competitive promotion, 

 

(3) A Senior Executive Service (SES) appointment, and

 

(4) Payment for relocation.

 

D. Non-pecuniary losses are intangible (non-monetary) injuries of emotional or physical harm including, but not limited to:

 

(1) Pain, suffering, and other negative impacts on health;

 

(2) Mental anguish, depression, and loss of enjoyment of life; and

 

(3) Injury to professional standing, character, or reputation.

 

E. Pecuniary losses are out-of-pocket expenses incurred such as, but not limited to:

 

(1) Medical and psychiatric expenses, and

 

(2) Moving expenses.

 

4.6 Who has the authority to approve settlement offers resulting from EEO actions, personnel actions, and the CORE PLUS program?

 

A. Before making any offers of monetary payment or material benefit for EEO, CORE PLUS, or personnel-based settlements, the Assistant Director – Budget, Planning and Human Resources (AD–BPHR) must approve the offer in writing. We must also meet the following Departmental requirements:

 

(1) Settlement of more than $40,000 in aggregate (e.g., back pay, interest, costs), or more than $20,000 for any one component of relief: The local Office of the Solicitor (SOL) and the Department’s Office of Civil Rights must approve the amount before any negotiation begins.

 

(2) Attorneys’ fees: The local SOL must approve attorneys’ fees before negotiation begins, regardless of the amount.

 

B. Before convening mediations under the Alternative Dispute Resolution process (see 061 FW 3) or as part of EEOC- or Merit System Protection Board-mandated settlement conferences, the AD–BPHR must approve bargaining parameters.

 

C. The AD–BPHR does not have to approve the payment of equipment for reasonable accommodation.

 

D. For settlement offers that do not include material benefit or monetary payment, the Directorate member under whose line authority the complaint arose must approve offers prior to negotiations.

 

4.7 Does any other official review settlement offers requiring the AD–BPHR’s approval before the AD–BPHR sees them? Yes.

 

A. Service representatives in the Regions must send all requests for approval of:  

 

(1) Proposed EEO settlement terms and mixed EEO/Personnel proposed settlement terms to the Chief, Branch of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (EEO Officer), and

 

(2) Non-EEO related personnel and CORE PLUS proposed settlements to the Chief, Branch of Policy and Field Liaison.

 

B. The Chief of the Branch of Equal Opportunity and Diversity or Branch of Policy and Field Liaison reviews the requests and sends them to the AD–BPHR for clearance or approval.

 

4.8 What happens when the U.S. Attorney’s Office or the Department of Justice handles cases going to Federal Court? The Department of Justice (DOJ) has broad authority to conduct litigation, including settlements, in cases in which the United States is a party.

 

A. The DOJ works with SOL to obtain the views of the Agency before entering into negotiations leading to a settlement.

 

B. Either the Service representative working with SOL on the case or the SOL attorney notifies the AD–BPHR prior to settlement conferences. The AD–BPHR notifies the Director.

 

4.9 Who has signature authority on settlement agreements for EEO settlements?

 

A. The AD–BPHR has signature authority for all settlements that include material benefit or monetary payment. The AD-BPHR is not a party to litigation; the signature only attests to the fact that the benefits conferred have been approved. The AD–BPHR may delegate this signature authority to the relevant Regional or Assistant Director, but no lower.

 

B. For settlement agreements that do not include material or monetary payment, the Directorate member under whose line authority the complaint arose has signature authority.

 

C. For settlement agreements where the AD–BPHR is a party in the case, the Deputy Director delegates the signature/settlement authority to a member of the Directorate at the SES level. 

                                    

D. The Chief, Branch of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (EEO Officer) must also sign these agreements to show he/she reviewed the document and that it reflects the terms that were negotiated by both parties.

 

 


For information on the content of this chapter, contact the Branch of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. For more information about this Web site, contact Krista Bibb in the Division of Policy and Directives Management, at Krista_Bibb@fws.gov.  



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