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Complaint Process Flow Chart [PDF 99k]
The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) process is governed by the regulations, management directives, guidance, and case law of the EEO Commission (EEOC), as well as applicable federal court cases. The EEOC regulations governing the federal sector complaint process are at 29 Code of Federal Regulation, Part 1614. The EEO administrative complaint process consists of three parts:
The informal process, also called EEO Counseling, provides complainants and management officials with an opportunity to define complainants’ concerns, obtain information necessary to address the issues, and attempt to resolve the issues informally. EEO counselors are impartial. They are neither employee advocates nor management representatives. EEO counseling can resolve complaints and discriminations before the parties enter into a formal process, which can be both adversarial and lengthy. It is also a means for employees and applicants with recourse to more than one formal procedure for raising their claims to learn about their options.
The formal EEO complaint process is a legal procedure for the consideration of claims of employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, and sexual orientation. Claims of retaliation for opposing these types of discrimination or participating in the EEO complaint process can also be raised. If a complaint meets procedural requirements established by regulation, an investigation is conducted. In most cases, complainants may also elect to have a hearing before an EEOC Administrative Judge. The formal complaint process ends when the Department issues a Final Agency Decision (FAD) on the complaint.
In the appeal process, complainants may appeal FADs to the EEOC. Merit decisions in mixed case complaints-complaints on issues that are appeal-able to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB)-are first appealed to the MSPB.
In all cases-except complaints brought solely under the Equal Pay Act and/or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, employees and applicants must use the informal EEO complaint process before raising their claims in court.