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U.S. Department of Commerce
Manual for Processing Discrimination Complaints
Part I: Program Authority, Responsibility and Implementation

To implement the programs described in this manual and other EEO programs, the Secretary of Commerce has designated the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration as Director of EEO. This section contains a summary of the responsibilities and authority of the Director of EEO and other officials with respect to the EEO and Sexual Orientation Discrimination complaint processes covered by this manual. Additional organizational information and information about delegations of authority related to the EEO programs are found in:

Director of EEO

The authority of the Director of EEO includes the following:

  • providing for the development and implementation of an internal discrimination complaint system consistent with the applicable regulations of the EEOC; and

  • designating an EEO Officer for each operating unit, so that the functions described in this manual may be carried out in all Departmental locations.
Director, Office of Civil Rights

The authority of the Director of the OCR includes the following:

  • overseeing all Departmental Civil Rights and EEO programs, including the EEO and Sexual Orientation Discrimination complaint programs and the Departmental EEO Alternative Dispute Resolution Program; and

  • issuing the Department's Final Agency Decisions (FADs) on EEO and sexual orientation discrimination complaints.

Chief, Program Implementation Division

The Chief of the Program Implementation Division is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the EEO and Sexual Orientation Discrimination complaint programs, and the complaint processes for allegations of discrimination in programs and services operated or funded by the Department. This includes:

  • establishing and maintaining uniform complaint processing systems within the Department;

  • providing staff assistance to the Director of EEO, the Director of OCR, and other Departmental offices with respect to the adjudication of complaints;

  • arranging for the investigation of complaints;

  • developing recommended final decisions on complaints for the Director of OCR;

  • developing briefs on appeals to the EEOC from decisions issued by the Director of OCR and preparing other documents as necessary for the processing of EEO complaints;

  • developing briefs on appeals to the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration from Final Agency Decisions issued by the Director of OCR in sexual orientation discrimination complaints;

  • coordinating complaint activities with the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) as appropriate, including review of comments on appeal briefs where OGC has represented the Department at hearings and obtaining OGC review and approval for legal sufficiency of Final Agency Decisions which propose to make a finding of discrimination;

  • establishing policies for the administration of the informal and formal EEO and sexual orientation discrimination complaint processes and establishing procedures for the formal complaint process;

  • establishing policies and procedures for the processing of complaints of discrimination in programs and services operated or funded by the Department and coordinating processing with other federal agencies as appropriate; and

  • reviewing and monitoring the informal EEO and sexual orientation Discrimination complaint programs of the operating units.

Heads of Operating Units

The head of each operating unit shall :

  • provide sufficient resources to administer the complaints processing program; and

  • nominate to the Director of EEO one or more persons to serve as EEO Officer(s) for the operating unit.
EEO Officers

EEO Officers provide guidance and assistance to operating unit officials in EEO matters, and plan and direct their operating unit=s EEO and Affirmative Employment Programs consistent with Department guidance and policies, and as delegated by the Director of OCR.

Duties of the EEO Officer, with respect to complaint processing, include:

  • administering an EEO counseling program designed to resolve complaints of discrimination, including sexual orientation discrimination, at the informal stage and at the lowest possible level;

  • coordinating with OCR to ensure successful and timely processing of individual and class EEO complaints and Sexual Orientation Discrimination complaints;

  • managing a program for recruiting, selecting, training and supervising collateral-duty and full-time EEO Counselors, and reviewing, editing and forwarding Counselor=s Reports to OCR in a timely manner;

  • providing training for managers and supervisors on non-discrimination policies and practices;

  • administering the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program at the informal counseling stage in accordance with guidance established by the Department; and

  • developing, implementing and evaluating innovative complaint resolution methods, with a special emphasis on alternative dispute resolution techniques.
EEO Counselors

EEO Counselors have the following duties and shall remain impartial in carrying out all of their responsibilities:

  • providing accurate information about the EEO and Sexual Orientation Discrimination complaint processes to complainants and responding management officials;

  • promptly furnishing required notices to complainants;

    • attempting to assist complainants and management officials in reaching a voluntary resolution to the concerns raised in counseling;

    • advising complainants about alternative dispute resolution programs and the procedures for electing to use them;

    • advising complainants about other processes in which their claims may be raised, including the MSPB appeal process, the Office of Special Counsel complaint process, and negotiated grievance procedures; and

    • submitting complete, accurate and timely counseling reports and other reports as required.

    Collateral-duty EEO Counseling. Collateral EEO Counseling is the assignment of an employee outside of the EEO Office to EEO counseling duties, along with his or her regularly assigned duties. Generally, a designation of a collateral-duty EEO Counselor shall be for no more than three years. The EEO Officer may extend a designation with the approval of the Director of OCR.

    • EEO Investigators

    • EEO investigators have the following duties and shall remain impartial in carrying out these duties:

    • collecting testimony and other evidence on the EEO complaint or sexual orientation discrimination complaint as provided in the scope of investigation instructions defined by OCR;

    • using investigative techniques selected by OCR to obtain documentary evidence;

    • performing other inquiries as directed by OCR;

    • preparing a thorough Report of Investigation according to OCR guidelines; and

    • performing supplemental investigations as directed.
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