Investigation of Individual Employment Discrimination Complaints
The EEO staff of the EOUSA is responsible for conducting an investigation of the formal complaint of employment discrimination that is based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability (physical or mental), sexual orientation or reprisal. The EEO Specialists assign the individual employment discrimination complaints to EEO Investigators for full investigation. During the investigation, a complete and impartial factual record will be established upon which a finding will be made as to whether or not discrimination occurred.
If the complainant or USAOs management officials fail without good cause shown to respond fully and in a timely fashion to the EEO Investigator's requests for documents, statements, records, comparative data, statistics, sworn statements or the attendance of witnesses, the EEO Investigator may note in the investigative record that the decision-maker (the Complaint Adjudication Officer) should, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on appeal may draw an adverse inference that the requested information, or the testimony of the requested witness(es), would have reflected unfavorably on the party refusing to provide the requested information.
- Time Limit for Filing Complaints: The complainant has 15 calendar days from the date of receipt of the Notice of Final Interview to file a formal, written EEO complaint with the EEO Assistant Director.
- Precise and Appropriate Matters in the Complaint: The complaint must be sufficiently precise to describe generally the action(s) or practice(s) that form the basis of the complaint. The complainant may file a formal complaint on only those matters which have been brought to the attention of the EEO staff during the pre-complaint counseling. The complainant is limited to the incidents and issues which were sent forth in the initial allegation of discrimination (informal complaint) and were discussed with the EEO Counselor. If the complainant should add other incidents and issues on which he/she has not been counseled, the formal complaint may be rejected and not processed.
- Role of the EEO Investigator: The investigation will be assigned to an EEO Investigator who will be officially designated to conduct on-site inquiries into all accepted issues raised in the formal complaint. The investigator will be authorized to administer oaths and to require USAOs employees to furnish testimony before a court reporter, under oath or affirmation without the promise of confidentiality.
- The EEO Investigator is required to be objective, unbiased and thorough. During the investigation, the EEO Investigator gathers the facts that gave rise to the allegation(s) of employment discrimination by interviewing the complainant, management officials and other witnesses, and reviewing documents, personnel records and related data. At the conclusion of the investigation, the EEO Investigator writes a report of investigation which contains a summary of testimonial and documentary evidence but not an evaluation of the merits of the allegation(s).
- Conflict of Interests: Investigators will not conduct investigations in the districts in which they are employed.
- Complainants alleging discrimination within the EOUSA Director's Office or office of principal subordinates will be assigned for investigation by a bureau within the Department of Justice other than the EOUSA's EEO Office.
- Notification to the Complainant: After receiving the formal complaint, the EEO staff of the EOUSA will provide two notices to the complainant:
- Acknowledgement of Receipt. The EEO staff will acknowledge receipt of the complaint and advise the complainant of the date on which the complaint was filed.
- Acceptance or Rejection of Allegations. Following the review of the complaint, the EEO staff will issue a written notice to the complainant advising him/her of the acceptance or rejection of the complaint's allegations, in whole or in part.
- If the complaint is accepted, the complainant will be informed of the accepted allegations of discrimination (issues) and will be provided specific information regarding the processing of the complaint. The complaint will be assigned by the EEO staff to an EEO Investigator for investigation.
- If the complaint is rejected, the complainant has the right to appeal the final decision regarding the dismissal of all or a portion of the complaint. The complainant will be informed, in writing, of his/her appeal rights.
- The complainant will also receive a copy of the Counselor's Report prepared on the informal complaint.
- Investigation Period: The investigation will be completed within 180 days of the date of the filing of the complaint. (The investigation time period may be voluntarily extended, by written agreement between the complainant and the EEO staff, for not more than an additional 90 days.)
- Cooperation with the Investigation: The complainant, USAOs management officials and any employee witnesses shall produce such documentary and testimonial evidence as the EEO Investigator deems necessary.
Further, if an employee is directed by a supervisor to cooperate during an investigation and fails to do so, disciplinary action may be taken against the employee.
[cited in USAM 3-5.211]