Traditional EEO Counseling
EEOC has established six clearly defined duties that must be performed for each completed counseling session; (1) advise the complainant of the EEO complaint process under 29 CFR 1614; (2) assist in determining the issue(s) and basis(es) of the potential complaint; (3) conduct a limited inquiry for the purpose of furnishing information for settlement/resolution efforts and determining jurisdictional questions if a formal complaint is filed; (4) seek a resolution at the lowest possible level; (5) document the resolution or advise the complainant of their right to file a formal complaint if resolution fails; and (6) prepare a report sufficient to determine that the required counseling actions have been taken and resolve any jurisdictional questions that may arise.
The complainant has the responsibility of cooperating in the complaint during counseling by providing as much information as possible as to the issue/issues, basis/bases and circumstance protected by the Privacy Act.
The complainant must communicate with the Counselor and provide, when available, information pertaining to the complaint that may be requested by the Counselor. Also, he or she is to respond to any offers of resolution. If the Agency wishes to offer a resolution, but the complainant will not waive anonymity, the counselor will advise the complainant of the EEO complaint process, and if appropriate, issue a notice of right to file.
The Counselor conducts a limited inquiry to determine what facts will be needed to resolve the issues that the employee has raised during the discussion of the problem. There is no set formula for the Counselor to follow in attempting a resolution. The Counselor is not an investigator and will not investigate an informal complaint. However, the scope of the Counselor's inquiry and discussions with the complainant and appropriate management officials will meet criteria established by EEOC. Since the inquiries are conducted informally and do not involve sworn testimony or extensive documentation, a Counselor does not make findings on the issues of discrimination.
In order to resolve an EEO informal complaint/EEO dispute, the agency and the complainant must agree on a solution. However, if resolution is not achieved within 30 calendar days from initial contact, or with a written authorization from the complainant to extend counseling, not to exceed 60 days, the Counselor must advise the complainant in writing of their right to file a formal complaint and the time limit for doing so.
This is known as issuing the Notice of Right to File a Formal Complaint (NRF). The complainant has fifteen (15) calendar days from the date she or he receives this notice to file a complaint with USDA's Office of Civil Rights, Employment Complaints Division.