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Where Do I Start?

Outlining the Processes for EEO complaints.

1. USPS Employees

WHERE DO I START?: If you are a Postal Service employee who has been unlawfully discriminated against or retaliated against in the workplace, it can be intimidating to know where to start. You will have important decisions to make, such as whether you want to file a complaint on your own, or whether you should hire an attorney to assist you. You will also need to decide whether you wish to stay anonymous or not. So where should you begin?

TIME TO FILE: The first step in beginning the EEO process is making sure you file your first complaint within 45 days of the discriminatory action. You will need to initiate the pre-complaint process by submitting either an online or written request for EEO counseling.

The online application can be found here: https://efile.usps.com

EEO COUNSELING: Once an EEO Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist is assigned to your case, the specialist will work with you to define your claims and outline all important deadlines. The specialist will start informal counseling inquiries, which are usually done over the phone but are sometimes done by mail. The Specialist is a neutral party and is not allowed to advocate for either the USPS or you. The goal of counseling is an agreeable resolution to the issue. You may choose to keep your identity anonymous during this phase of the process.

If the counseling with the ADR Specialist does not reach an agreeable resolution within 30 days, then you may request an extension. However, if an agreement is not reached at the end of the extension, then the counselor will conduct a final interview and issue a “notice of right to file a formal complaint.”

THE FORMAL EEO COMPLAINT PROCESS:
If you decide to file a formal complaint, you will lose your anonymity, and all parties will be aware of the allegations. You or your attorney must put the complaint in writing within 15 days of receiving your “notice of right to file a formal complaint.”
The Postal Service’s complaint processing office will send you a letter acknowledging that they received the complaint, which they may accept in part or in whole. You cannot appeal their decision at this stage.

INVESTIGATION: Once the complaint is received, an EEO complaint investigator will begin to collect factual information about the issues in your complaint. This investigator will take testimony from any people relevant to the claim in an affidavit and by penalty of perjury. You will be asked what remedies you think you are entitled to and will be asked to share medical reports and other personal documents related to your claim.

Once the investigation is complete, you will receive a copy of the investigative file, along with a notice of your options at this point in the EEO process. The notice will usually have two options: (1) you may request a hearing before the EEOC, or (2) request a final Postal Service decision without a hearing based on the EEO case file. If you do not reply with a preference, you will receive a merit final agency decision within 60 days.

APPEALING THE DECISION WITHIN EEO:

If your complaint was dismissed in whole or in part, you may appeal the decision to the EEOC Office of Federal Operations (OFO) within 30 days of the receipt of the dismissal. If you wish to appeal the decision after a hearing, a decision without a hearing, or a merit final agency decision, you must appeal to the OFO within 30 days of the decision. You may file your appeal using the EEOC’s Public Portal located at https://publicportal.eeoc.gov/ where you can also upload selected documents, and manage your personal and representative information.

FILING A CIVIL ACTION:

If you choose to take the action outside of the EEOC, you may file a civil action in district court. You must file within 90 days after the receipt of the Postal Service’s final action on the complaint, or after you receive the OFO’s final decision on appeal, or 180 days from the date of filing your formal complaint if you have not filed an appeal or from the date of filing an appeal with the OFO if the OFO has not issued a final decision.

2. VA Employees

WHERE DO I START?: If you are a federal employee working in the Department of Veterans Affairs who has been unlawfully discriminated against or retaliated against in the workplace, it can be intimidating to know where to start. You will have important decisions to make, such as whether you want to file a complaint on your own, or whether you should hire an attorney to assist you. You will also need to decide whether you wish to stay anonymous or not. So where should you begin?

TIME TO FILE: The first step in beginning the EEO process is making sure you register your first complaint within 45 days of the discriminatory action. You will need to initiate the pre-complaint process by calling 1-888-566-3982, or by visiting the Office of Resolution Management (ORM). Hearing-impaired persons may call the TDD line at 1-888-626-9008. You will be asked to provide contact information and a brief description of your issue. Once you have made this call and have left the requested information in a message, you will receive confirmation that the call was received, along with a copy of a Notice of Rights and Responsibilities.

EEO COUNSELING: You can expect to be contacted by an EEO counselor within two business days after you receive the confirmation of your call. Once an EEO Counselor is assigned to your case, the specialist schedules an interview with you and discusses the documentation that supports your case. The specialist will start informal counseling inquiries, which are usually done over the phone but are sometimes done by mail. You may elect to pursue Alternative Dispute Resolution, in which the goal is an agreeable resolution of the issue. Please keep in mind that the EEO counselor is a neutral party, and is not allowed to advocate for either the VA or you.

If the counseling with the ADR Specialist does not reach an agreeable resolution within 30 days, then you may request an extension. However, if an agreement is not reached at the end of the extension, then the counselor will conduct a final interview and issue a “notice of right to file a formal complaint.”

THE FORMAL EEO COMPLAINT PROCESS:
If you decide to file a formal complaint, you must do so in writing, preferably on VA Form 4939, and submit it to your local ORM Field Office. You or your attorney must put the complaint in writing within 15 days of receiving your “notice of right to file a formal complaint.”

INVESTIGATION: Once the complaint is received, an EEO complaint investigator will begin to collect factual information about the issues in your complaint. This investigator will take testimony from any people relevant to the claim in affidavit and by penalty of perjury. You will be asked what remedies you think you are entitled to, and will be asked to share medical reports and other personal documents related to your claim.

Once the investigation is complete, you will receive a copy of the investigative file, along with a notice of your options at this point in the EEO process. The notice will usually have two options: (1) you may request a hearing before the EEOC, or (2) request a final decision without a hearing based on the EEO case file. If you do not reply with a preference, you will receive a merit final agency decision within 60 days.

APPEALING THE DECISION WITHIN EEO:

If your complaint was dismissed in whole or in part, you may appeal the decision to the EEOC Office of Federal Operations (OFO) within 30 days or the receipt of the dismissal. If you wish to appeal the decision after a hearing, a decision without a hearing, or a merit final agency decision, you must appeal to the OFO within 30 days of the decision. You may file your appeal using the EEOC’s Public Portal located at https://publicportal.eeoc.gov/ where you can also upload selected documents, and manage your personal and representative information.

FILING A CIVIL ACTION:

If you choose to take the action outside of the EEOC, you may file a civil action in district court. You must file within 90 days after the receipt of the final action on the complaint, or after you receive the OFO’s final decision on appeal, or 180 days from the date of filing your formal complaint if you have not filed an appeal or from the date of filing an appeal with the OFO, if the OFO has not issued a final decision.

3. D.O.D. employees

A. AIR FORCE & AIR NATIONAL GUARD

WHERE DO I START?: If you are a D.O.D. Air Force or Air National Guard employee who has been unlawfully discriminated against or retaliated against in the workplace, it can be intimidating to know where to start. You will have important decisions to make, such as whether you want to file a complaint on your own, or whether you should hire an attorney to assist you. So where should you begin?

TIME TO FILE: The first step in beginning the EEO process is making sure you file your first complaint within 45 days of the discriminatory action. You will need to initiate the pre-complaint process by emailing AFPC.EO@us.af.mil, calling the Air Force Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Hotline at 1-888-231-4058, or the National Guard EO hotline at 1-800-371-0617.

EEO COUNSELING: Once an EEO Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist is assigned to your case, the specialist will work with you to define your claims and outline all important deadlines. The specialist will start informal counseling inquiries, which is usually done over the phone, but is sometimes done by mail. The Specialist is a neutral party and is not allowed to advocate for either the Air Force or you. The goal of counseling is an agreeable resolution to the issue.

If the counseling with the ADR Specialist does not reach an agreeable resolution within 30 days, then you may request an extension. However, if an agreement is not reached at the end of the extension, then the counselor will conduct a final interview and issue a “notice of right to file a formal complaint.”

THE FORMAL EEO COMPLAINT PROCESS:
If you decide to file a formal complaint, you or your attorney must put the complaint in writing within 15 days of receiving your “notice of right to file a formal complaint.” You will receive an acknowledgment that the complaint was received, which they may accept in part or in whole. You cannot appeal their decision at this stage.

INVESTIGATION: Once the complaint is received, an EEO complaint investigator will begin to collect factual information about the issues in your complaint. This investigator will take testimony from any people relevant to the claim in an affidavit and by penalty of perjury. You will be asked what remedies you think you are entitled to and will be asked to share medical reports and other personal documents related to your claim.

Once the investigation is complete, you will receive a copy of the investigative file, along with a notice of your options at this point in the EEO process. The notice will usually have two options: (1) you may request a hearing before the EEOC, or (2) request a final Postal Service decision without a hearing based on the EEO case file. If you do not reply with a preference, you will receive a merit final agency decision within 60 days.

APPEALING THE DECISION WITHIN EEO:

If your complaint was dismissed in whole or in part, you may appeal the decision to the EEOC Office of Federal Operations (OFO) within 30 days or the receipt of the dismissal. If you wish to appeal the decision after a hearing, a decision without a hearing, or a merit final agency decision, you must appeal to the OFO within 30 days of the decision. You may file your appeal using the EEOC’s Public Portal located at https://publicportal.eeoc.gov/ where you can also upload selected documents, and manage your personal and representative information.

FILING A CIVIL ACTION:

If you choose to take the action outside of the EEOC, you may file a civil action in district court. You must file within 90 days after the receipt of the final action on the complaint, or after you receive the OFO’s final decision on appeal, or 180 days from the date of filing your formal complaint if you have not filed an appeal or from the date of filing an appeal with the OFO, if the OFO has not issued a final decision.

B. ARMY

WHERE DO I START?: If you are a D.O.D. Army employee who has been unlawfully discriminated against or retaliated against in the workplace, it can be intimidating to know where to start. You will have important decisions to make, such as whether you want to file a complaint on your own, or whether you should hire an attorney to assist you. So where should you begin?

TIME TO FILE: The first step in beginning the EEO process is making sure you file your first complaint within 45 days of the discriminatory action. You will need to initiate the pre-complaint process by either calling the EEOC Office at 800-669-4000, or emailing info@eeoc.gov to request EEO counseling.

EEO COUNSELING: Once an EEO Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist is assigned to your case, the specialist will work with you to define your claims and outline all important deadlines. The specialist will start informal counseling inquiries, which is usually done over the phone, but is sometimes done by mail. The Specialist is a neutral party and is not allowed to advocate for either the Army or you. The goal of counseling is an agreeable resolution to the issue.

If the counseling with the ADR Specialist does not reach an agreeable resolution within 30 days, then you may request an extension. However, if an agreement is not reached at the end of the extension, then the counselor will conduct a final interview and issue a “notice of right to file a formal complaint.”

THE FORMAL EEO COMPLAINT PROCESS:
If you decide to file a formal complaint, you or your attorney must put the complaint in writing within 15 days of receiving your “notice of right to file a formal complaint.” You will receive an acknowledgment that the complaint was received, which they may accept in part or in whole. You cannot appeal their decision at this stage.

INVESTIGATION: Once the complaint is received, an EEO complaint investigator will begin to collect factual information about the issues in your complaint. This investigator will take testimony from any people relevant to the claim in an affidavit and by penalty of perjury. You will be asked what remedies you think you are entitled to and will be asked to share medical reports and other personal documents related to your claim.

Once the investigation is complete, you will receive a copy of the investigative file, along with a notice of your options at this point in the EEO process. The notice will usually have two options: (1) you may request a hearing before the EEOC, or (2) request a final decision without a hearing based on the EEO case file. If you do not reply with a preference, you will receive a merit final agency decision within 60 days.

APPEALING THE DECISION WITHIN EEO:

If your complaint was dismissed in whole or in part, you may appeal the decision to the EEOC Office of Federal Operations (OFO) within 30 days or the receipt of the dismissal. If you wish to appeal the decision after a hearing, a decision without a hearing, or a merit final agency decision, you must appeal to the OFO within 30 days of the decision. You may file your appeal using the EEOC’s Public Portal located at https://publicportal.eeoc.gov/ where you can also upload selected documents, and manage your personal and representative information.

FILING A CIVIL ACTION:

If you choose to take the action outside of the EEOC, you may file a civil action in district court. You must file within 90 days after the receipt of the final action on the complaint, or after you receive the OFO’s final decision on appeal, or 180 days from the date of filing your formal complaint if you have not filed an appeal or from the date of filing an appeal with the OFO if the OFO has not issued a final decision.

C. COAST GUARD

WHERE DO I START?: If you are a D.O.D. Coast Guard employee who has been unlawfully discriminated against or retaliated against in the workplace, it can be intimidating to know where to start. You will have important decisions to make, such as whether you want to file a complaint on your own, or whether you should hire an attorney to assist you. So where should you begin?

TIME TO FILE: The first step in beginning the EEO process is making sure you file your first complaint within 45 days of the discriminatory action. You will need to initiate the pre-complaint process by contacting a Civil Rights Service Provider at 1-888-992-7387 or visiting https://www.uscg.mil/Resources/Civil-Rights/Service-Providers/

EEO COUNSELING: Once an EEO Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist is assigned to your case, the specialist will work with you to define your claims and outline all important deadlines. The specialist will start informal counseling inquiries, which is usually done over the phone, but is sometimes done by mail. The Specialist is a neutral party and is not allowed to advocate for either the Coast Guard or you. The goal of counseling is an agreeable resolution to the issue.

If the counseling with the ADR Specialist does not reach an agreeable resolution within 30 days, then you may request an extension. However, if an agreement is not reached at the end of the extension, then the counselor will conduct a final interview and issue a “notice of right to file a formal complaint.”

THE FORMAL EEO COMPLAINT PROCESS:
If you decide to file a formal complaint, you or your attorney must put the complaint in writing within 15 days of receiving your “notice of right to file a formal complaint.” You will receive an acknowledgment that the complaint was received, which they may accept in part or in whole. You cannot appeal their decision at this stage.

INVESTIGATION: Once the complaint is received, an EEO complaint investigator will begin to collect factual information about the issues in your complaint. This investigator will take testimony from any people relevant to the claim in an affidavit and by penalty of perjury. You will be asked what remedies you think you are entitled to and will be asked to share medical reports and other personal documents related to your claim.

Once the investigation is complete, you will receive a copy of the investigative file, along with a notice of your options at this point in the EEO process. The notice will usually have two options: (1) you may request a hearing before the EEOC, or (2) request a final decision without a hearing based on the EEO case file. If you do not reply with a preference, you will receive a merit final agency decision within 60 days.

APPEALING THE DECISION WITHIN EEO:

If your complaint was dismissed in whole or in part, you may appeal the decision to the EEOC Office of Federal Operations (OFO) within 30 days or the receipt of the dismissal. If you wish to appeal the decision after a hearing, a decision without a hearing, or a merit final agency decision, you must appeal to the OFO within 30 days of the decision. You may file your appeal using the EEOC’s Public Portal located at https://publicportal.eeoc.gov/ where you can also upload selected documents, and manage your personal and representative information.

FILING A CIVIL ACTION:

If you choose to take the action outside of the EEOC, you may file a civil action in district court. You must file within 90 days after the receipt of the final action on the complaint, or after you receive the OFO’s final decision on appeal, or 180 days from the date of filing your formal complaint if you have not filed an appeal or from the date of filing an appeal with the OFO, if the OFO has not issued a final decision.

D. MARINES

WHERE DO I START?: If you are a D.O.D. Marine employee who has been unlawfully discriminated against or retaliated against in the workplace, it can be intimidating to know where to start. You will have important decisions to make, such as whether you want to file a complaint on your own, or whether you should hire an attorney to assist you. So where should you begin?

TIME TO FILE: The first step in beginning the EEO process is making sure you file your first complaint within 45 days of the discriminatory action. You will need to initiate the pre-complaint process by either calling the HQMC EEO Office (Pentagon) at 571-256-8302, calling the HQMC EEO Office (MCB Quantico) at 703-784-4772, or emailing SMBHQMCARHEEO@usmc.mil to request EEO counseling.

EEO COUNSELING: Once an EEO Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist is assigned to your case, the specialist will work with you to define your claims and outline all important deadlines. The specialist will start informal counseling inquiries, which is usually done over the phone, but is sometimes done by mail. The Specialist is a neutral party, and is not allowed to advocate for either the Marines or you. The goal of counseling is an agreeable resolution to the issue.

If the counseling with the ADR Specialist does not reach an agreeable resolution within 30 days, then you may request an extension. However, if an agreement is not reached at the end of the extension, then the counselor will conduct a final interview and issue a “notice of right to file a formal complaint.”

THE FORMAL EEO COMPLAINT PROCESS:
If you decide to file a formal complaint, you or your attorney must put the complaint in writing within 15 days of receiving your “notice of right to file a formal complaint.” You will receive an acknowledgement that the complaint was received, which they may accept in part or in whole. You cannot appeal their decision at this stage.

INVESTIGATION: Once the complaint is received, an EEO complaint investigator will begin to collect factual information about the issues in your complaint. This investigator will take testimony from any people relevant to the claim in affidavit and by penalty of perjury. You will be asked what remedies you think you are entitled to, and will be asked to share medical reports and other personal documents related to your claim.

Once the investigation is complete, you will receive a copy of the investigative file, along with a notice of your options at this point in the EEO process. The notice will usually have two options: (1) you may request a hearing before the EEOC, or (2) request a final decision without a hearing based on the EEO case file. If you do not reply with a preference, you will receive a merit final agency decision within 60 days.

APPEALING THE DECISION WITHIN EEO:

If your complaint was dismissed in whole or in part, you may appeal the decision to the EEOC Office of Federal Operations (OFO) within 30 days or the receipt of the dismissal. If you wish to appeal the decision after a hearing, a decision without a hearing, or a merit final agency decision, you must appeal to the OFO within 30 days of the decision. You may file your appeal using the EEOC’s Public Portal located at https://publicportal.eeoc.gov/ where you can also upload selected documents, and manage your personal and representative information.

FILING A CIVIL ACTION:

If you choose to take the action outside of the EEOC, you may file a civil action in district court. You must file within 90 days after the receipt of the final action on the complaint, or after you receive the OFO’s final decision on appeal, or 180 days from the date of filing your formal complaint if you have not filed an appeal or from the date of filing an appeal with the OFO, if the OFO has not issued a final decision.

E. NAVY

WHERE DO I START?: If you are a D.O.D. Navy employee who has been unlawfully discriminated against or retaliated against in the workplace, it can be intimidating to know where to start. You will have important decisions to make, such as whether you want to file a complaint on your own, or whether you should hire an attorney to assist you. So where should you begin?

TIME TO FILE: The first step in beginning the EEO process is making sure you file your first complaint within 45 days of the discriminatory action. You will need to initiate the pre-complaint process by either calling 1-866-295-0320, or emailing mill_cnic_naf_eeo@navy.mil to request EEO counseling from the CNIC NAF EEO Service Center.

EEO COUNSELING: Once an EEO Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist is assigned to your case, the specialist will work with you to define your claims and outline all important deadlines. The specialist will start informal counseling inquiries, which are usually done over the phone, but is sometimes done by mail. The Specialist is a neutral party and is not allowed to advocate for either the Navy or you. The goal of counseling is an agreeable resolution to the issue.

If the counseling with the ADR Specialist does not reach an agreeable resolution within 30 days, then you may request an extension. However, if an agreement is not reached at the end of the extension, then the counselor will conduct a final interview and issue a “notice of right to file a formal complaint.”

THE FORMAL EEO COMPLAINT PROCESS:
If you decide to file a formal complaint, you or your attorney must put the complaint in writing within 15 days of receiving your “notice of right to file a formal complaint.” You will receive an acknowledgment that the complaint was received, which they may accept in part or in whole. You cannot appeal their decision at this stage.

INVESTIGATION: Once the complaint is received, an EEO complaint investigator will begin to collect factual information about the issues in your complaint. This investigator will take testimony from any people relevant to the claim in an affidavit and by penalty of perjury. You will be asked what remedies you think you are entitled to and will be asked to share medical reports and other personal documents related to your claim.

Once the investigation is complete, you will receive a copy of the investigative file, along with a notice of your options at this point in the EEO process. The notice will usually have two options: (1) you may request a hearing before the EEOC, or (2) request a final Postal Service decision without a hearing based on the EEO case file. If you do not reply with a preference, you will receive a merit final agency decision within 60 days.

APPEALING THE DECISION WITHIN EEO:

If your complaint was dismissed in whole or in part, you may appeal the decision to the EEOC Office of Federal Operations (OFO) within 30 days or the receipt of the dismissal. If you wish to appeal the decision after a hearing, a decision without a hearing, or a merit final agency decision, you must appeal to the OFO within 30 days of the decision.

FILING A CIVIL ACTION:

If you choose to take the action outside of the EEOC, you may file a civil action in district court. You must file within 90 days after the receipt of the final action on the complaint, or after you receive the OFO’s final decision on appeal, or 180 days from the date of filing your formal complaint if you have not filed an appeal or from the date of filing an appeal with the OFO, if the OFO has not issued a final decision.

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