NOAA Civil Rights Office

Complaints of Discrimination


Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is the law. It is the policy of the Government of the United States to provide equal opportunity in Federal employment and to prohibit discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, retaliation, genetic information, or sexual orientation.

NOAA promotes EEO for all individuals and will not tolerate any form of discrimination in the workplace. NOAA takes seriously its responsibility to prevent discrimination by removing any barriers that may limit opportunities. Every effort must be made by management officials to ensure that this commitment is reflected in all of the actions and policies of the organization. However, if employees of NOAA or applicants for employment with NOAA believe that this commitment is not being met, they may seek guidance and assistance through the EEO complaint process. As an employee, applicant for employment with NOAA, or former employee, individuals have the right to avail themselves of the EEO complaint process without fear of retaliation.

The EEO Complaint Process is described in detail regarding the overview of how to manage EEO Complaints in the Federal Sector. Review the Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions' (EEOC) Management Directive-110 and the EEOC's regulation at 29 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) Part 1614.

For more information, please visit the following website links:

EEO Counseling: An Overview of the Informal Complaint Process

Aggrieved persons who believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex national origin, age, disability, retaliation, genetic information, or sexual orientation must consult a Counselor prior to filing a complaint in order to try to informally resolve the matter.

An aggrieved person must initiate contact with a Counselor within 45 days of the date of the matter alleged to be discriminatory or, in the case of personnel action, within 45 days of the effective date of the action.

The Counselor must ensure that the Aggrieved Person understands his/her rights and responsibilities in the EEO complaint process, including the option to elect ADR.

The Counselor should further explain the complaint process and timeframes.

The Counselor must attempt resolution within 30 days of contact by the Aggrieved Person. Counseling can be extended for an additional 60 days if the Aggrieved Person agrees in writing to the extension. The NOAA Civil Rights Office must approve the request. The total counseling period shall not exceed 90 days. Where the Aggrieved Person chooses to participate in the ADR process, the pre-complaint processing period shall be 90 days.

If the ADR program is available, the Aggrieved Person will have to exercise an election option, and decide whether to seek pre-complaint resolution through the ADR process or through the traditional EEO counseling process. In this regard, at the initial counseling session, the Counselor should:

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Formal Complaint Process Overview

The DOC OCR is responsible for acceptance or dismissal, investigation, EEO hearing, Final Decisions, and appeals. A complaint must be filed within 15 days of receipt of the notice of right to file. Immediately upon receipt of a formal complaint of discrimination, the DOC OCR will acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing. The complaint must contain a signed statement from the person claiming to be aggrieved or that person's attorney. The statement must be sufficiently precise to identify the aggrieved individual and the agency to describe generally the action(s) or the practices that form the basis of the complaint. The DOC OCR will send the complainant an acceptance letter stating the claims accepted for investigation. A copy of the acceptance letter is provided to the NOAA Civil Rights Office. The DOC OCR provides a copy of the letter to the servicing Headquarters or field office attorney. The DOC OCR assigns a contractor or staff investigator to investigate the complaint. The EEO Investigator will contact the NOAA Civil Rights Office to determine the responsible management official named in the dispute and request a list of documents regarding the complaint.