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EEOC issues final rule on federal employee complaints

A final rule modifying the complaint process for federal employees claiming discrimination has been issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The new rule allows an EEOC complaint challenging a proposal or a preliminary step to a personnel action to be dismissed, unless the federal employee alleges that the proposal is retaliatory.

The rule also requires federal employers to provide a written explanation when an investigation of a complaint of discrimination is not completed in a timely manner. In addition to explaining why the investigation is not complete, the federal agency’s letter must provide the employee with an estimated date of completion and, more importantly, provide notice of the employee’s right to request a hearing or file a lawsuit.

The rule requires federal agencies to file appeals and complaints with the EEOC in a digital format, unless good cause can be shown for submissions in other formats.

On the other hand, federal employees who file complaints are merely encouraged to submit digital filings.

In addition, the changes authorize the EEOC to issue notices to non-compliant federal agencies and permit the creation of pilot projects for complaint processing.

The new rule treats an administrative judge’s decision on the merits of a class complaint as a final decision which an agency can implement or appeal. Previously, an administrative judge’s decision in this regard had the status of a recommendation.

According to the EEOC’s news release, the changes represent the first major revision to the federal sector complaint process since 1999. The new rules go into effect Sept. 24.

The EEOC has also provided a fact sheet summarizing and explaining the revisions.

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