Precomplaint Stage

Counseling

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Formal Complaint Stage

Hearing and Appeal Stages

 

 

 

EEO Complaint Process

 

 

EEO Complaint Process

The Smithsonian is committed to ensuring that employees, applicants for employment, and individuals associated with the Institution ( e.g., interns, research associates, fellows and volunteers) are treated equitably in an environment that is free from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, disability, protected genetic information, parental status, marital status, or sexual orientation and free from reprisal against protected activities.

 

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Precomplaint Stage

The precomplaint stage is the initial part of the EEO complaint process. Management and the aggrieved person have the opportunity to resolve the issue(s) informally. Resolution at this level is greatly encouraged. Two methods exist for addressing concerns during the precomplaint stage: counseling or mediation.

An employee, applicant for employment, or individual associated with the Institution (e.g., employee, applicant for employment, intern, research associate, fellow or volunteer) who believes that he or she has been discriminated against because of race, color, religion, sex (to include pregnancy), national origin, age, disability or reprisal must consult with an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Counselor located in the Office of Equal Employment and Minority Affairs (OEEMA). The aggrieved person must bring the matter to the Counselor’s attention within forty-five (45) calendar days of the date of the matter or, if it involves a personnel matter, within forty-five (45) calendar days of the effective date of the personnel action. You may contact an EEO Counselor by calling OEEMA at 202-633-6430.

 

Counseling

EEO Counselors facilitate communication between management and the aggrieved person in an attempt to resolve discrimination claims informally. This objective is accomplished through the review of documentation and a series of interviews designed to develop relevant and factual information. The EEO Counselor conducts a minimum of two interviews with the aggrieved person. During the initial interview, the Counselor solicits the parameters of the discrimination claim and informs the aggrieved person of his or her rights and responsibilities within the EEO process including the right to anonymity during the precomplaint stage. Additionally, the aggrieved person is requested to identify the basis, issue, remedy, designation of representation, and his or her decision regarding anonymity.

The EEO Counselor will conduct a final interview with the aggrieved person, insofar as practical, no later than 30 calendar days after the initial interview or as extended by agreement. The Counselor will issue a “Notice of Final Interview” to the aggrieved person which explains his or her right to initiate a formal complaint.

 

Alternative Dispute Resolution

OEEMA offers Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as an alternative to traditional EEO counseling or to assist in the resolution of a formal EEO complaint. Mediation, which is a form of ADR, is a nonadversarial process in which an impartial person (the mediator) intervenes to help parties negotiate a resolution of their dispute.

Mediators assist in clarifying issues, identifying underlying causes and helping the concerned parties reach an agreement on their own. They establish the “ground rules” for each session and assist parties in resolving the issue(s). They do not decide what the resolution ought to be. The parties to a mediation conference include the aggrieved person alleging discrimination, the responsible management official(s), and other appropriate individuals as determined by OEEMA. The alleged discrimination must be based on race, color, sex (including pregnancy), religion, national origin, age, and/or disability.

OEEMA reserves the right to decline a request for mediation involving issues that may not be suitable for this process. Mediation is available at all stages of the EEO process: counseling, after filing formally and prior to a hearing. OEEMA strongly encourages participating in mediation as early in the process as possible. Mediation may be offered by OEEMA or requested by either the aggrieved person or management official. If the aggrieved person elects ADR, counseling will be extended an additional 60 days.

 

Formal Complaint Stage

An EEO complaint enters the formal phase when it is filed with OEEMA after the completion of the precomplaint phase and receipt of the "Notice of Final Interview." The complainant has 15 days from receipt of the "Notice of Final Interview" to file a formal complaint. Whether you have the right to proceed in the informal complaint process will depend on a determination by OEEMA of your legal standing to bring such a formal complaint. If your formal complaint is accepted, an investigation of your claims will be conducted within 180 calendar days from the date of filing.

Once the Smithsonian finishes the investigation, a Report of Investigation (ROI) will be distributed to the complainant and to management. The Smithsonian is required to send a copy of the ROI and election of rights letter to the complainant. The election of rights letter advises the complainant that he/she has 30 days (from receipt of the ROI) in which to either (1) request a hearing and decision from an EEOC administrative judge (AJ) or (2) request an immediate final decision from the Smithsonian. If the complainant does not request a hearing before an EEOC AJ or an immediate decision from the Smithsonian, OEEMA will issue its final decision in 60 days.

 

Hearing and Appeal Stages

If your complaint, or any part of it, is dismissed, you will receive a separate written notice, and you will be advised of your rights of appeal. For information about the federal sector complaint hearing and appeal process, please go to the EEOC Web site. .