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The Role of the EEO Counselor

The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Counselor plays a vital role in the complaints process. The Counselor establishes an open and objective channel through which employees may raise questions, find answers, discuss problems, and obtain resolution to employment discrimination conflicts. The Counselor is an informal problem solver, factfinder, mediator, and bridge between employees and management.

The Counselor must be sensitive to the employment problems faced by all employees (especially minorities, women, people with disabilities, and older workers). The Counselor needs to be objective, communicate effectively, show good judgment in handling sensitive information, and be able to secure the confidence of both employees and management.

EEO counseling is the required first step in the EEO complaint process. EEO counseling provides an opportunity for informal resolution at an early stage. If the complaint is not resolved, the Counselor plays a vital role in ensuring prompt and efficient processing of the formal complaint.

An aggrieved employee or applicant who believes they have been discriminated against in their employment on the bases of race, color, religion, sex (includes sexual harassment and sexual orientation), national origin, age, or disability, or in retaliation for participating in EEO activity must contact the EEO Office to request an EEO Counselor within 45 calendar days of the alleged discrimination or when they became aware of it.

The EEO Counselor has six clearly defined duties:

  1. Advise the aggrieved person about the EEO complaint process under 29 CFR Part 1614 and other avenues of relief.
  2. Determine the issues and EEO bases of the complaint.
  3. Conduct a limited inquiry to furnish information for settlement efforts and determining jurisdiction if a formal complaint is filed.
  4. Seek a resolution at the lowest possible level.
  5. Document the resolution through a settlement agreement or a withdrawal. If the complaint is not resolved or withdrawn, advise the complainant of the right to file a formal discrimination complaint.
  6. Prepare a report sufficient to determine that required counseling actions have been taken and resolve any jurisdictional questions that may arise.

Last Updated: November 21, 2003


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