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This manual governs the Department of Commerce (Department) Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Sexual Orientation Discrimination complaint processes, and the complaint processes for allegations of discrimination by users of programs and services operated or funded by the Department of Commerce. It is primarily intended as a procedural manual for EEO staff. It may also be of interest to others who need to know how the complaint processes work, including management officials, human resources staff, employees, and applicants for employment.
The Complaint Processes
The EEO Complaint Process. The federal EEO complaint process, described in Part A, is an administrative process designed to redress claims of discrimination and retaliation in federal employment under four federal civil rights laws: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; the Equal Pay Act of 1963; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended. These laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age (40 and over), and disability; and retaliation for filing an EEO complaint, participating in the EEO complaint process, and/or opposing employment practices believed to be unlawful under these laws.
The EEO complaint process includes informal and formal complaint processes and a procedure for appealing Final Agency Decisions to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). EEOC regulations, management directives, guidance, and EEOC and federal court case law govern the processing of federal sector employment discrimination complaints. The EEOC is an independent federal agency responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws prohibiting employment discrimination. An Alternative Dispute Resolution process is available in both the informal and formal processes for complaints that are suitable for mediation.
The Sexual Orientation Discrimination Complaint Process. The Department also has a similar complaint process for redressing claims of sexual orientation discrimination and related retaliation. This administrative process was established in accordance with the Department's non-discrimination policy, Department Administrative Order (DAO) 215-11, and Executive Order 11478, as amended. The Sexual Orientation Discrimination complaint process includes informal and formal complaint processes, and a procedure for appealing Final Agency Decisions to the Department's Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration. DAO 215-11 governs the processing of sexual orientation discrimination complaints. The EEOC does not have jurisdiction over complaints of sexual orientation discrimination.
Complaints involving discrimination in programs and services operated or funded by the Department. OCR coordinates the enforcement of various statutes that prohibit race, color, national origin, age, sex, and disability discrimination in programs that
receive Federal financial assistance, and that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by Commerce.
Structure of this Manual
Part I of the manual describes roles and authority of the officials responsible for implementing the two complaint processes.
Part II describes the employment discrimination complaint process for Commerce employees and applicants for employment.
Section A describes the laws and policies related to the EEO complaint process and the procedures for processing EEO complaints. It also includes separate chapters on class complaints and mixed case complaints (complaints which allege discrimination in connection with an action that is otherwise appealable to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB)). It also includes information on the EEO Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program.
Section B is reserved for information about the laws and policies related to the Department's Sexual Orientation Discrimination Complaint Process and the procedures for processing complaints of sexual orientation discrimination.
Section C is reserved for information about related processes including civil actions and other administrative forums in which allegations of employment discrimination or retaliation prohibited by federal civil rights laws or allegations of sexual orientation discrimination may be raised.
Part III of the manual is reserved for information about procedures for raising claims of discrimination not related to employment in programs or activities operated or funded by the Department.
The Appendix is reserved for copies of notices and forms used in the complaint processes and other useful information.
This manual is issued under the authority of DAO 200-0. Pursuant to this DAO, this manual has the status and effect of a DAO. This manual supercedes the Department's Handbook for Processing Discrimination Complaints issued in June 1986.
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