If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination, you generally have 45 days from the day the discrimination occurred to contact an EEO Counselor where you work or where you applied for a job. If the discrimination involved a personnel action (for example, a demotion or firing), you generally must contact the EEO Counselor within 45 days of the day the personnel action takes effect.
Each agency is required to post information about how to contact the agency’s EEO Office. The information will include the EEO Office location and what number to call to reach someone there.
Once you contact the agency’s EEO Office, an EEO Counselor will talk to you about your rights and responsibilities and will take down some basic information about your situation.
In most cases, the EEO Counselor will give you the choice of participating either in EEO counseling or in an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program, such as a mediation program. Not all problems are covered by an agency’s ADR program, and the EEO Counselor should be able to tell you whether yours is the type of situation that is covered. If it is not covered, then the Counselor will try to settle the matter informally.
If you do not settle the dispute during counseling or through ADR, you can file a formal discrimination complaint against the agency with the agency’s EEO Office. The Counselor will hold a final interview with you and then give you a notice with instructions about how to file a formal complaint. This interview will take place within 30 days from the day you first contacted the EEO Office to request counseling (unless you participated in ADR or agreed to an extension of up to an additional 60 days). If you participate in ADR, the pre-complaint process is extended to 90 days.
Usually, you must wait until the EEO Counselor has held a final interview with you before you can file a complaint. If, however, the counseling period ends and your EEO Counselor has not yet held the final interview, you have the right to file a formal complaint without having the interview. When you submit your complaint, you should include a short letter telling the EEO Office that the EEO counseling period has ended (including any extensions), and you have not yet been given a final interview.
If you have more than one discrimination complaint against an agency, the agency’s EEO Office must investigate your complaints together. This is to ensure that they are investigated as quickly and as efficiently as possible. The EEO Office will notify you before the complaints are combined.