Processing Discrimination Complaints
PROCESSING DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINTS FOR NSF EMPLOYEES AND APPLICANTS
- National Science Foundation's EEO Policy
- Applicable Statutes and Regulations
- Who May File a Discrimination Complaint?
- Aggrieved's Rights
- What is Conciliation?
- The Precomplaint Process: STAGE I
- The Formal Complaint Process: STAGE II
- The Investigative Process: STAGE III
- The Appeals Process: STAGE IV
- Final Agency Decision
- EEOC Hearing
- When Can a Civil Action or Lawsuit be Filed?
- Special Provision for Age Discrimination Complaints
- Mixed-Case Complaint
- Negotiated Grievance Procedure
- Appendix A: Class Action Complaints
- NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION'S EEO POLICY
It is the policy of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to ensure equal opportunity in all phases of employment, delivery of services, and administering of grants and contracts. NSF will maintain an environment for all of our employees and customers that is free from prohibited discrimination and harassment based on race, color, religion, sex (includes sexual harassment and discrimination based on pregnancy), disability, age, national origin, sexual orientation, and protected genetic information. Individuals are also protected from retaliation for exercising their rights under anti-discrimination laws.
- APPLICABLE STATUTES AND REGULATIONS
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Civil Rights Act of 1991
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
- Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Equal Pay Act of 1963
- Federal Sector Equal Employment Opportunity: 29 CFR Part 1614
- Federal Sector Complaints Processing Manual: EEO Management Directive 110
- WHO MAY FILE A DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT?
Any NSF employee or applicant for employment who believes he or she has been discriminated against, in an employment action, practice or decision, on one or more of the following bases: race, color, religion, national origin, gender (includes sexual harassment and discrimination based on pregnancy), age (40 and above), disability (physical or mental), protected genetic information, and reprisal, e.g., having participated in the EEO complaint process, or opposed an unlawful employment practice. Harassment (non-sexual) is also prohibited on the above bases.
- AGGRIEVED'S RIGHTS
You have the right to be represented by someone of your choice at any stage in the process.
You have the right to be free from restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal.
You have the right to appeal the decision on your complaint.
You have the right to file a civil action.
(Prior to contacting an EEO Official or requesting mediation, the Director, OECR, at his discretion may conduct conciliation.)
- WHAT IS CONCILIATION?
Conciliation allows the Director, OECR, or designee, a 3-day window to attempt resolution of the issue(s) prior to referring the complaint to mediation or traditional counseling. The Director or designee meets with the appropriate management official to discuss the issue(s) and discuss alternatives that may resolve the dispute. If conciliation does not result in a mutually satisfactory resolution, the aggrieved may elect to continue with mediation or traditional counseling.
- THE PRECOMPLAINT PROCESS: STAGE I
- You must contact an EEO official within 45 calendar days of the alleged discriminatory action. OECR will provide you an EEO counselor.
- The EEO counselor will attempt to resolve the matter informally within 30 calendar days from the date of the initial contact. If additional time is needed for a resolution, counseling may be extended up to 60 additional days, upon the agreement of the OECR and the aggrieved.
- You may elect to choose mediation through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in lieu of informal counseling. You must contact an OECR official and complete proper documentation to proceed in this process. Once ADR is elected, the pre-complaint processing period is 90 days.
- THE FORMAL COMPLAINT PROCESS: STAGE II
Formal complaints must be filed with NSF's Office of Equity and Civil Rights, after receipt of the appropriate notice from the EEO counselor or OECR. The signed and dated complaint may be mailed or personally delivered to:
Office of Equity and Civil Rights
National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Avenue, Suite 17200W
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
The complaint may also be filed with the Director, NSF, who will forward it to OECR. Whichever option is chosen, the formal complaint must be filed within 15 calendar days after receipt of the "Notice of Right to File."
If/When ADR is offered in the Formal Process then attendance is NOT optional for management and employees.
- THE INVESTIGATIVE PROCESS: STAGE III
If the complaint is accepted, an investigator will be assigned. If the allegations in the complaint, or portions thereof, are rejected, you will be given the reason(s) for rejection and informed of your appeal rights, in writing.
The investigation is required to be completed within 180 days from the filing of the complaint. By mutual agreement, the investigation may be extended for 90 additional days.
- THE APPEALS PROCESS: STAGE IV
After the investigation, you may request NSF's final decision or a hearing by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
(NOTE: You may also request a hearing or file a civil action if the investigation has not been completed after 180 days from the date the formal complaint was filed.
- FINAL AGENCY DECISION
Within 60 days of requesting a Final Agency Decision, the Director or his/her designee will issue the decision based on the information in the investigative file.
- EEOC HEARING
An EEOC Administrative Judge (AJ) conducts a hearing and issues a decision within 180 days after receiving the complaint file from NSF. If NSF does not issue a final order within 40 days< after receiving the AJ's decision, the findings and conclusions become NSF's final decision.
- WHEN CAN A CIVIL ACTION OR LAWSUIT BE FILED?
You may file a lawsuit in an appropriate U.S. District Court:
- After 180 calendar days from the date of filing a complaint with NSF if a Final Decision has not been issued and no appeal has been filed,
- Within 90 calendar days of receiving notice of NSF's Final Decision on your complaint if no appeal has been filed,
- Within 90 calendar days of receiving notice of EEOC's decision on your appeal, or
- After 180 days from the date of filing an appeal with EEOC when there has been no EEOC decision.
- SPECIAL PROVISION FOR AGE DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINTS
If you are filing a claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, you may bypass the administrative process by filing a notice of intent to sue at least 30 days before you file a civil action in court.
(If you elect to file your age discrimination complaint with NSF, you may still file a civil action after completing all of the steps of the administrative process outlined above, just as you might with any other discrimination complaint.)
- MIXED-CASE COMPLAINT
A "mixed-case complaint" is a complaint of employment discrimination filed with a Federal agency based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, protected genetic information, or reprisal related to or stemming from an action that may be appealed to the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) (e.g., disciplinary personnel actions including, but not limited to, removals, demotions, suspensions for more than 14 days, reductions-in-force, and furloughs for less than 30 days, etc.).
- NEGOTIATED GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE
The negotiated grievance procedure is contained in the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between an agency and a recognized labor organization (e.g., Local 3403, AFGE, AFL-CIO). An allegation of discrimination may be processed under a negotiated grievance procedure or, unless specifically excluded by the bargaining agreement, under the administrative complaint process; however, an aggrieved person is not entitled to have the complaint heard in both forums.
Contact your bargaining unit representative or an EEO official for more information about these choices.
- APPENDIX A: CLASS ACTION COMPLAINTS
A class is defined as a group of employees, former employees, or applicants who alleged they have been or are being adversely affected by an agency personnel policy or practice that discriminate against the group on the bases of their common race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability. The aggrieved person(s) come(s) to the EEO Official as a class agent representing the group. A class inquiry must be brought to the attention of an EEO counselor by a class agent within 45 days of the date when the specific policy or practice adversely affected the class agent or, if a personnel action, within 45 days of the effective date of that action.