EEOC Proposes Changes To Federal Discrimination Complaint Process
Alyssa Rosenberg | Government Executive
December 23, 2009
Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said the EEO process required a more thorough overhaul, but praised the notification requirement.
“Everyone agrees that agency investigations go on too long,” she said. The notification regulation “provides a useful reminder to employees of information provided at the initial filing of the complaint, and it may serve as an incentive to agencies to timely complete the investigation process.”
In the Federal Register notice, EEOC officials also said the agency “intends to provide a mechanism for reviewing and seeking compliance from agencies that fail to comply with the requirements” of a number of EEO directives. The percentage of departments and agencies that filed mandatory reports about their diversity fell from 68 percent in fiscal 2005 to 50 percent fiscal 2006, the advocacy group Federally Employed Women told the Obama transition team in January.
Mastroianni declined to comment directly on whether a goal of the working group was to improve agency compliance with EEOC directives, but said “there definitely was a feeling that the process could be improved.”
Several provisions in the proposed regulations may make things easier for agencies. One proposal, for example, gives agencies more time to pay penalties to employees who win discrimination cases. Current rules require agencies to pay 60 days after the EEOC issues a judgment against them, but the proposed rule would set the time at 120 days. That means agencies wouldn’t have to pay workers before they file suit in district court, which they are allowed to do within 90 days of an EEOC ruling.
Another proposal would allow agencies to run pilot programs to experiment with almost any part of the complaint process. The Government Accountability Office reported this summer that a pilot system, coupled with strong oversight, could help find efficiencies in processing.
“We want to know if there’s a better way to do anything — to do any aspect of this process,” Mastroianni said. “It’s the same notion when you look at federal legislation: The states are laboratories for change. We don’t have any particular mindset about pilots we expect. We’re really looking forward to getting some new ideas.”