Complainant's Notification of Rights
Informal EEO Complaints
The USDA EEO Informal Complaint System covers individual
and class complaints of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex,
national origin, age, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, marital
status and reprisal for previous EEO activity. (Age is a factor only if
complainants are at least 40 years of age). A person with a disability
(ies) is one who has a physical or mental impairment, which substantially
limits one or more major life activities, has a record of impairment, or is
regarded as having such an impairment. Any employee or applicant for employment
may file a complaint (only USDA employees may initiate a complaint based on
sexual orientation and/or marital status). Complainants may have a
representative of their choice at any stage in processing the complaint,
provided the choice of a representative does not involve a conflict of interest
or conflict of position. No reprisals may be taken against a complainant or a
complainant's representative. Any individual who contacts an EEO Counselor
regarding concerns or issues is entitled to confidentiality. *
The right to receive in writing within 30 calendar days of
the date of initial contact to the EEO Counselor a notice terminating
counseling if the complaint is not resolved; unless, the complainant agrees
in writing with the counselor to postpone the final interview and extend the
counseling period for an additional period of no more than 60 days, or to
a 90 day informal process to participate in USDA's Dispute Resolution
The right to anonymity in the counseling phase of the complaint unless
The right to representation throughout the complaint process including
the counseling stage. The complainant must immediately inform the EEO
Counselor, the Employment Complaint Adjudication Division or EEOC, as
appropriate, if representation is obtained.
The right to elect between an negotiated grievance procedure and the EEO
Where an Agency is covered by 5 U.S.C. 7121(d) and where the negotiated
procedure and the statute covers the alleged discrimination, as an aggrieved
individual would be required to elect either: 1) the statutory procedure for
discrimination; the internal agency EEO process; or 2) the negotiated
grievance procedure, but not both.
The right to election requirements in the event that the matter at issue
is appealable to the Merit System Protection Board, i.e., the matter is a
Twenty (20) calendar days from the date of the alleged
discriminatory act to file a mixed case appeal with the Merit Systems
Protection Board (MSPB) or 15 calendar days from the date of a
counselor/mediator's notice of final interview or 30 calendar days
after the initial EEO Counselor/Mediator contact to file formal mixed
case EEO complaint. (S)he may not file both an MSPB appeal and EEO complaint
on the same matter. The process selected first is deemed the elected
The right to file a notice of intent to sue when age is alleged as basis
for discrimination and the right to file a lawsuit under the ADEA instead of
an administrative complaint of age discrimination, pursuant to section
The right to go directly to U.S. District Court on claims of sex based
wage discrimination under the Equal Pay Act. Such claims are also cognizable
under Title VII.
The right to file a formal complaint within 15 days of receipt of
the counselor's Notice of Right to File a Formal Complaint in the event s(he)
wishes to file a formal complaint at the conclusion of counseling.
The right to a hearing before an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Administrative Judge in a non-mixed case after 180 days or after completion
of the investigation, which ever comes first.
The right to go to U.S. District Court 180 days after filing a
formal complaint, or 180 days after filing an appeal.
The duty to mitigate damages, e.g., that interim earnings or amounts
which could be earned by the individual with reasonable diligence generally
must be deducted from an award of back pay.
The duty to keep the Agency and EEOC informed of current mailing address
and to serve copies of the appeal papers on the Agency.
Class complaint procedures and responsibilities of a
class agent will be provided upon request.
NOTE: Only matters raised at the counseling stage or
matters like or related to matters raised at the counseling stage, may be the
subject of a formal complaint.
The time frames in this notification are stated in
The Civil Rights Office is committed to ensuring
confidentiality regarding discussions with employees. However, to
facilitate the informal investigation process, it may be necessary to contact
immediate supervisors, co-workers or bargaining unit officials. All
complaint settlement agreements are subject to review by the Agency's Unions.
EEO Complaint Intake Form (PDF)
EEO Problem Statement (PDF)