EEO Complaint Process
Complaints of discrimination may be filed by any employee or applicant for employment with PHMSA who believes he/she has been discriminated against on the basis of:
- national origin
- gender/sex (includes sexual harassment)
- age (40 and up)
- disability (physical & mental)
- genetic information
- sexual orientation
1. Precomplaint Process
The aggrieved person(employee or applicant) must contact the Complaints Manager or an EEO Counselor within 45 calendar days from an alleged discriminatory action.
EEO Process versus Union Process
Employees covered by bargaining agreements may use the union grievance procedures or the EEO complaint process, as applicable to pursue discrimination complaints. Please refer to the Memorandum of Agreement between PHMSA and AFGE or speak to the Complaints Manager or Union official for further information.
The EEO Counselor will try to resolve the matter informally within 30 calendar days from the date of initial contact. Counseling may be extended up to 60 additional days, upon agreement of the aggrieved and the Complaints Manager, or if an established Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedure is utilized. If resolution is successful, the complaint is closed. If resolution is not successful, a Notice of Right to File a Discrimination Complaint letter will be provided to the aggrieved.
2. Formal Complaint Process
Complainant may file a written formal complaint with the Agency, within 15 calendar days of receipt of the Notice of Right to File a Discrimination Complaint. If the complaint is accepted by the Agency, an investigator will be assigned to collect all relevant information pertaining to the complaint. If the complaint is dismissed, the complainant will be provided, in writing, the reason(s) for dismissal and informed of his/her right to appeal the decision.
The Agency is required to complete an investigation within 180 days from the filing of the formal complaint, with a possible extension of 90 additional days, upon mutual agreement. After the investigation, the complainant has 30 calendar days to request a Final Agency Decision or a hearing by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC.) (Complainant may also request a hearing after 180 days has elapsed from the filing of the complaint, if the investigation has not been completed.)
Agency Final Decision
If complainant requests a Final Agency Decision or does not make an election within the required time frame, the Agency will issue a decision on the complaint. The decision, based on information in the investigative file, is issued within 60 days.
If complainant requests a hearing by EEOC, an EEOC Administrative Judge (AJ) conducts a hearing and issues a decision within 180 days of the request. If the agency does not issue a final order within 40 days of receipt of the AJ's decision, the AJ's decision shall become the final action of the agency.
Complainant, if dissatisfied with the Agency's Final Decision, may appeal to EEOC's Office of Federal Operations (OFO) or file a civil action in a U.S. District Court.
4. Right to File a Civil Action
Complainant, if dissatisfied with OFO's decision, may request reopening and reconsideration by EEOC or may file a civil action in a U.S. District Court. Complainants who raise a claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act may bypass the administrative process by filing a notice of intent to sue with EEOC at least 30 days before filing a civil action in court.
5. Class Complaints
The regulations provide for processing class complaints. A class is defined as a group of employees, former employees, or applicants who are alleged to have been adversely affected by an agency personnel policy or practice which discriminates against the group on the basis of their common race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability. A class complaint is a written complaint of discrimination filed on behalf of the class by the agent of the class, alleging that the class is so numerous that a consolidated complaint by the members of the class is impractical, that there are questions of fact common to the class, that the claims of the agent of the class are typical of the claims of the class, and that the agent of the class and, if represented, the representative, will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. The Civil Rights Office will provide counseling in "class" complaints. The Director will designate a counselor for "class" complaints as in the informal process. Formal Class Complaints will be processed by the Agency.