The EEO Complaint Process
To initiate the 29 CFR Part 1614 Federal EEO complaint process, aggrieved persons must contact an EEO counselor or official in the MCAS Cherry Point EEO office and initiate pre-complaint procedures within 45 calendar days of:
The action or practice alleged to be discriminatory,
The effective date of the personnel action alleged to be discriminatory; or
The time the aggrieved person became aware of the alleged discriminatory action or practice.
Individuals may choose between participation in an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process (Mediation) or traditional counseling. If both parties agree to ADR, arrangements will be made to mediate the dispute within ninety (90) calendar days.
Mediation is an informal process in which a neutral third party assists the opposing parties to reach a voluntary, negotiated resolution of the issues(s). Mediation gives the parties the opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the EEO complaint, clear up misunderstandings, determine the underlying interests or concerns, find areas of agreement and, ultimately, to incorporate those areas of agreements into solutions. A mediator does not impose a decision on the parties. The mediator helps the parties to agree on a mutually acceptable resolution. Mediation is scheduled through the Center of Excellence (COE) within the DON with a trained mediator. While it is not necessary to have an attorney or other representation in order to participate in Mediation, either party may choose to do so. Information shared in the mediation conference is confidential. No report will be developed on the substance of the mediation conference. The only written documentation resulting from the mediation conference will be the actual agreement, if any, and the minutes of the conference facilitator, the date and length of time, and whether or not an agreement was reached. If the mediation is unsuccessful, the aggrieved person will receive a Notice of Right to File a Formal complaint of Discrimination with fifteen (15) calendar days of receipt of such notice.
If Traditional Counseling is elected, an EEO Counselor will be assigned and will attempt to resolve the issue(s) within thirty (30) calendar days from the initial contact or 90 days if an extension is granted. Depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case, an aggrieved person may have options other than Part 1614 procedure available in pursuit of a discrimination claim. The individual, in some cases, may have to elect the process s/he wishes to pursue. Election options apply in age discrimination complaints, mixed case complaints, Equal Pay Act complaints, and claims where certain negotiated grievance procedures apply. In addition, procedures may be available through the OSC or the MSPB. Individuals may choose to remain anonymous only during the informal stage of the EEO complaint process and only if they are not alleging discriminatory harassment, including sexual harassment. Individuals also have the right to representation. Once the EEO Counselor has determined the basis(es) and claim(s), he/she will conduct a limited inquiry. While the scope of the inquiry will vary based on the complexity of the claims, the inquiry is intended to be limited and is not intended to substitute for the in-depth fact-finding required in the investigative stage of the formal complaint process. When the aggrieved individual and an EEO Counselor engage in resolution efforts, they may decide that they need additional time to reach an agreement. If the aggrieved person consents, the EEO office may extend the counseling period an additional period up to but not exceeding 60 days. If, during the course of the limited inquiry, the agency and the aggrieved person agree to an informal resolution of the dispute, the terms of the resolution must be reduced to writing, clearly identify the claims resolved, and be signed by both parties to help ensure they have the same understanding of the terms of the resolution. If the issue(s) is/are not resolved upon completion of the counseling process, the EEO counselor will conduct a final interview. During this interview, individuals are provided with full information about further options available. Once EEO counseling is complete, the counselor will provide a Notice of Right to File a Formal Complaint of Discrimination. From this point in time, individuals have fifteen (15) calendar days from the Notice of Right to File a Formal Complaint of Discrimination. Only the matter (s) raised during informal counseling (or issues like or related to issues raised during informal counseling) may be alleged in a subsequent formal complaint filed with the EEO Office. The issues in the formal complaint and matter giving rise to the complaint must be sufficiently precise to describe the action (s) or practice (s) that forms the basis of the complaint.
Formal Complaint Process:
The agency may accept, dismiss or partially dismiss the formal complaint of discrimination. If the complaint is accepted, it will be investigated. The agency is required to conduct a complete and fair investigation of the complaint within 180 days of the filing of the complaint, unless the parties agree in writing to extend the investigation. Complainants will receive a copy of the investigative file and have an opportunity to request an immediate final agency decision or a hearing before an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Administrative Judge. If the complaint is dismissed in its entirety, individuals will have the right to appeal the dismissal and will receive a separate written notice advising them of their appeal rights. If some, but not all of the issues in your complaint are dismissed, those issues will not be investigated. A determination on the dismissed portion will be made by an Administrative Judge if a hearing is requested on the remainder of the complaint. The dismissed portion is not appealable until a final agency decision is received on the accepted portion of the complaint. If a settlement of the complaint is reached, the terms of the settlement will be stated, in writing, and a copy of such settlement will be provided. If a settlement of the complaint is not reached, you will be notified, in writing, of your right to request a decision by the Secretary of the Navy, with or without a hearing. Requests for hearing must be made within 30 calendar days after receiving the investigative file. A copy of the request for hearing must be submitted to the Deputy Equal Employment Opportunity Officer (DEEOO). The hearing will be conducted by an EEOC Administrative Judge who will issue a decision to both parties. The Secretary of the Navy will have 40 days to issue a final order notifying you whether or not the agency will fully implement the decision. If the decision is not fully implemented, the agency must simultaneously file an appeal with EEOC. If a decision without a hearing is elected, the Secretary of the Navy will issue a final Department of the Navy (DON) decision based on the information in the existing complaint file. To request a decision without a hearing, complainants must notify the DEEOO in writing within 30 calendar days after receiving the investigative file. If within 30 calendar days after receipt of the investigative file, a complainant fails to request a final decision from the Secretary of the Navy, with or without a hearing, a final DON decision will be issued. If a complainant is dissatisfied with the final DON decision, s/he may file a notice of appeal to the EEOC Office of Federal Operations (OFO) within 30 calendar days after receiving the final decision. A copy of the appeal must be provided to the DEEOO, MCAS Cherry Point. In or attached to the appeal to the EEOC, appellants must certify the date and method by which service was made on the Department of the Navy, MCAS Cherry Point’s EEO Office. An appellant may submit a brief or statement in support of the appeal to OFO within 30 calendar days after filing the notice of appeal. At the same time, an appellant must furnish a copy of the supporting brief or statement to the DON. Instead of filing an appeal to the EEOC, individuals may file a civil action in an appropriate U. S. District Court within 90 calendar days after receiving the final DON decision or, if the DON has not issued a final decision on the complaint, after 180 calendar days from the date the formal complaint was filed. Filing a civil action will result in termination of administrative processing of the discrimination complaint on the same issue raised in the civil action. When filing a civil action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended, or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended, and an individual does not have, or is unable to obtain the services of a lawyer, s/he may request the court to appoint a lawyer to represent them. In such circumstances as the court may deem just, the court may appoint a lawyer and may authorize the commencement of the action without the payment of fees, costs, or security. Any such request must be made within the above referenced 90 calendar-day time limit for filing suit and in such form and manner as the court may require. Filing a request for an attorney does not extend the time in which to file a civil action. Both the request and the civil action must be filed within 90 calendar days from the date s/he receive this final decision/action. If an individual decides to appeal to the EEOC, OFO, s/he will still have an opportunity to file a civil action in a federal district court within 90 calendar days after receiving the EEOC's final decision, or 180 calendar days after the date of your initial appeal to the Commission if EEOC has not rendered a final decision.