WASHINGTON – Advancing its efforts to improve the federal complaints process, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published in The Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on a series of discrete changes to discrimination complaint regulations. The agency is soliciting comments from the public and other interested parties by Feb. 19, 2010.
The proposed changes represent consensus measures identified in the report of an internal federal sector work group run by Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru when he was an EEOC Commissioner. The changes include allowing agencies to conduct pilot projects for complaints processing, conforming the standard for bringing complaints of retaliation in the federal sector to private sector standards, and requiring agencies to notify complainants of their right to request a hearing when an agency investigation has gone on for more than 180 days.
“The federal EEO process is vital for government workers, who have fewer available remedies than private-sector workers,” Ishimaru said, “and I’m pleased that we’re moving forward on implementing some key improvements recommended by our workgroup.”
Acting EEOC Vice Chair Christine M. Griffin said, “This is an important step in the Commission’s ongoing efforts to make the complaints process more fair and equitable for federal employees.”
The proposed regulations also authorize administrative judges to make final decisions on class complaints and provide for expedited processing of appeals from class certification decisions. Other changes include mandating agencies comply with management directives and bulletins issued by the EEOC, and requiring agencies and encouraging complainants to submit filings electronically, to expedite the process and move from paper-intensive files.
The EEOC will consider the public comments received and may make changes in the proposed rule based on those comments. The proposed final rule will then be coordinated with other federal agencies and reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget, before becoming effective.
During fiscal 2008, the latest year for which data are available, federal agencies completed some 39,000 counseling sessions regarding employment discrimination, and handled nearly 17,000 complaints.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.