skip navigation

logo and collage of commerce-related images - link to Office of Civil Rights home


Information About Other Avenues of Redress for Sexual Orientation Discrimination



Get Adobe Reader - Click here to leave the Department of Commerce and  download this plug-in from, a site outside the Federal Government.
To view pdf documents on this site, you must have the Adobe Reader plug-in. Click here to leave the U.S. Department of Commerce and download this plug-in from - a site outside the Federal government. See Disclaimers


The Department of Commerce has a 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.

DAO 215-11 established the Sexual Orientation Discrimination complaint process, which has three parts:

  • the informal process;
  • the formal complaint process; and
  • the appeal process.

The informal complaint process, also called Counseling, provides complainants and management officials with an opportunity to define the complainant's concerns, obtain information necessary to address the issues, and attempt to resolve the issues informally. Counseling can resolve many workplace conflicts before the parties enter into a formal process that may be both adversarial and lengthy. It also provides an opportunity to learn about other avenues of redress for sexual orientation discrimination claims. Commerce employees and applicants should contact the Bureau EEO Officer to be assigned to a Counselor. Counseling must be initiated within 45 days of the act believed to be discriminatory, the effective date of an alleged discriminatory personnel action, or the date the complainant knew of should have known of the alleged discriminatory action.

The EEO Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process is available for those complaints determined to be suitable for ADR. Mediation is the method of dispute resolution used in this process. Complainant's will be notified if ADR is available for their complaints.

This Sexual Orientation Discrimination complaint process is modeled on the EEO complaint process. The major procedural differences are:

  • there is no opportunity for a hearing: and
  • appeals are directed to the Department's Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration, rather than to the EEOC.

Compensatory damages are not available for claims of sexual orientation discrimination.

For more information, see the OCR booklet, Sexual Orientation Discrimination: Questions & Answers: pdf, web page.

To begin the informal complaint process, contact your Bureau EEO Officer and ask to be assigned to a Counselor. You must complete .

skip disclaimer

Disclaimer: The OCR Web site contains information originating from other organizations, both public and private. The Web site also contains hyperlinks to documents and resources from such public and private organizations. While every attempt is made to ensure that all information is accurately referenced on our site, we do not guarantee the accuracy, timeliness or quality of the content of these outside sources. The inclusion of hyperlinks does not indicate endorsement of any particular products, companies, information providers or the content of the referenced sites.

Skip Links

OCR Home| DOC Home | Contact OCR | Resources | Publications | Privacy Policy | Disclaimers

US Department of Commerce, Office of Civil Rights, 1401 Constitution Ave., NW, Room 6012, Washington, D.C. 20230

We welcome your feedback on this site. Please e-mail comments and suggestions to

Help us make our site accessible. Please send us your feedback on accessibility.

Page last updated: Tuesday, August 30, 2011