Diversity Improving, But EEO Case Management 'Seriously Flawed'
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has posted the full text of its Annual Report on the Federal Work Force for Fiscal Year (FY) 2003 on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov. The report informs and advises the President and the U.S. Congress on the state of equal employment opportunity (EEO) throughout the federal workforce. Data are presented both in individual agency profiles and in government-wide aggregate form. This year's annual report is in a more user-friendly format and includes practical tips for improving EEO performance.
Commenting on the report, EEOC Chair Cari M. Dominguez said, "The good news is that the federal government continues to make progress in reflecting in its work force the rich diversity of talent that exists in our Nation. I commend those agencies that have worked diligently to ensure equal opportunity at all levels and in all areas of employment.
"Now for the bad news: The processing of EEO complaints continues to be plagued with delays government-wide. Case processing statistics are going in the wrong direction, faring worse than the prior fiscal year. EEO case management is a seriously flawed process. Unless and until agencies address the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the discrimination complaint process, the federal government will not maximize savings, and employees will not see prompt resolution to their complaints."
In FY 2003, federal employees and applicants filed 20,226 complaints alleging employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability and reprisal. That figure represents a decline of about 8% from FY 2002. Agencies took an average of 267 days to investigate complaints, exceeding the 180-day time frame required by federal regulations. The average processing time for resolving complaints was 541 days, a significant increase from the 418 days in FY 2002.
Federal regulations allow complainants to request a hearing before the Commission after the agency has investigated the complaint. During FY 2003, EEOC received 9,918 hearing requests and closed 12,230 complaints. The average processing time was 421 days.
Agencies resolved 19,772 EEO complaints. Approximately 46% resulted in final action on the merits, 28% were settlements, and 1.3% resulted in a finding of illegal discrimination.
EEOC's Office of Federal Operations (OFO) received 7,035 appeals of agency final decisions. OFO closed a total of 8,013 appeals, lowering the average processing time to 285 days, a 39% decrease from FY 2002's average of 467 days.
During FY 2003, complainants obtained approximately $61.2 million in total monetary awards as a result of EEO complaints closed by the employing agency or on appeal.
Chair Dominguez recently sent letters to the heads of federal agencies providing each with a copy of the annual report, and pointing attention to each agency's performance in three EEO program areas. She commended the three agencies that had the best FY 2003 record in those areas. From among those agencies that conducted 50 or more investigations during FY 2003, the Chair praised the Tennessee Valley Authority for having the lowest average investigatory processing time,108 days. She commended the Department of State on having the lowest processing time for issuing final decisions without a hearing, 211 days. In addition, the Chair recognized the U.S. Postal Service for having the top performing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program among all reporting agencies, due to its 97% offer rate and 76% participation rate, well exceeding the government-wide average of a 73% offer rate and a 42% participation rate in ADR.
"I urge all agencies to aggressively review agency case management practices and procedures to identify problem areas and to find solutions, an effort that EEOC is currently undertaking for its Hearings unit," said Chair Dominguez. "Agencies also should consider using ADR techniques in the formal complaint process more frequently," she added, noting that participation in ADR during the pre-complaint stage doubled in FY 2003, to 42%. ADR successfully resolved 60% of the pre-complaint matters it addressed.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination in both the federal and private sectors. These include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; the Equal Pay Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
This page was last modified on May 20, 2004.
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