EEO Complaint Process
I want to File an EEO Complaint
If you are a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) employee, former employee or applicant for employment, and you believe you have been subjected to employment discrimination because of your:
- Race, Color, Religion, National Origin, Sex, Reprisal;
- Age (40 or older);
- Physical or Mental Disability;
- Genetic Information;
- Status as a Parent; or
- Sexual Orientation
You must contact CBP's Privacy and Diversity Office (PDO) within 45 calendar days from the date of the alleged discriminatory event to initiate an informal EEO complaint.
You may initiate an informal EEO complaint by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, with a brief statement on why you believe that you have been subjected to unlawful discrimination. Your email should also include your telephone number and address.
You may also initiate an informal EEO complaint by calling (1-877) MY-EEO-HELP (1-877-693-3643), or by contacting your servicing DCR Officer.
Upon receipt of your informal complaint, a PDO staff member will facilitate the processing of your claim and inform you of your rights and responsibilities (such as anonymity and representation) in the EEO complaint process.
A person who wishes to pursue a claim of employment discrimination against CBP must do so by contacting the servicing DCR Officer within 45 days of the date of the alleged discriminatory act or within 45 days of the effective date of the personnel or employment action. This contact initiates the informal counseling process provided for by the EEOC regulations.
The EEO official is then required to conduct a limited inquiry into the claim. The purposes of this inquiry are to identify the bases and issues being raised by the person and to seek a resolution regarding the claim. The EEO official must complete the limited inquiry within 30 calendar days from the date of the initial contact. If the matter is not resolved, the person making the claim of discrimination will be given a “Notice of Right to File a Discrimination Complaint (NORTF).”
Mediation is a process in which a trained neutral third party assists in resolving a dispute, or at least narrowing and clarifying issues, in a manner that is acceptable to both sides. Mediation is different from traditional litigation in that it is informal, the rules of evidence do not apply, testimony is not taken, and the mediator does not decide the dispute. Regarding complaints against CBP, mediation may be requested at either the informal or formal stages. When mediation is elected during informal counseling, the counseling period is extended to 90 days.
Informal EEO Complaint Process Resources:
Privacy and Diversity Office
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20229
Telephone: (202) 344-1610
Fax: (202) 325-1476 or at the following e-mail box:
After a formal EEO claim has been filed, the complainant will receive notification regarding the receipt and acceptance or dismissal of the claim. If the claim is accepted, an investigation will be scheduled. The EEOC regulations provide a number of threshold requirements that the complaint must meet in order to be actionable in the formal process (for example, the complaint must be timely filed and must allege a basis of discrimination that is unlawful).
If those threshold requirements are not met, the complaint will be dismissed. Once a complaint is dismissed, no further action on the complaint will be taken by the agency. However, if the complaint is dismissed, appropriate appeal rights to the EEOC will be provided. If an appeal is filed, and the EEOC disagrees with the agency’s dismissal, the EEOC may remand the complaint back to the agency for processing.
The EEO Investigator is a person officially designated and authorized to conduct inquiries into discrimination claims raised in EEO complaints. The investigator serves as an unbiased fact gatherer identifying and securing information through interviews of witnesses and review of written records. Investigators execute affidavits, and gather and organize evidence for those who have the responsibility for settling complaints or rendering final decisions. Initially, the EEO investigator reviews the complaint to determine if it meets the requirements for acceptance. If the claim is accepted, the assigned EEO Investigator will conduct the investigation within 180 calendar days from the filing date of the claim. Based on the information gathered during the investigation, the investigator compiles the information into an electronic investigative file (eIF) which will enable an appointed decision maker to make a final decision as to whether unlawful employment discrimination occurred with regard to the claims investigated.
The Complainant is responsible for providing a statement and supporting evidence addressing the alleged act of discrimination. The Complainant has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence that unlawful discrimination occurred.
The alleged Responsible Official is a management official and/or deciding official who took the action that is allegedly discriminatory. He or she is responsible for providing a statement addressing the alleged discriminatory act and providing documentary evidence explaining his or her reason for taking the action. Management officials are expected to cooperate fully in all stages of the processing of an employment discrimination complaint.
Witnesses are persons who provide information that tends to prove or disprove allegations of discrimination. Their information may be provided through formal statements called affidavits or declarations, or they may be called to testify at an administrative hearing. Witnesses may be identified by the complainant or by agency officials. Witnesses who are government employees are expected to cooperate fully in all stages of the processing of an employment discrimination complaint.
The Investigative File contains statements, documentary evidence and policies and procedures secured by the EEO Investigator addressing the alleged discriminatory acts. The IF must contain information sufficient to allow a decision-maker to determine whether unlawful discrimination occurred.
EEO Investigations Resources:
At the conclusion of the investigation, the complainant will be issued an Election Notice and given 30 days to choose how they wish to proceed. The Notice provides the Complainant with three options: 1). Request a hearing before an EEOC Administrative Judge; 2). Request an agency decision from the Department of Homeland Security as to whether discrimination occurred; or 3). Withdraw entirely from the process.
Final Agency Decision
If the complainant does not request a hearing before the EEOC, the Department of Homeland Security, Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is expected to issue a decision in 60 days. The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties will notify the Complainant in writing of its decision and will also provide appeal rights. If no discrimination is found, or the Complainant disagrees with some part of the decision, the Complainant may appeal the decision to EEOC or challenge it in federal district court.
Complainants may elect a hearing by submitting a written request directly to the EEOC office indicated in the Complaints Management and Investigations Group's election letter and a copy of the request to the Complaints Management and Investigations Group.
Hearings provide the parties with a fair and reasonable opportunity to explain and supplement the record and, in appropriate instances, to examine and cross-examine witnesses. During the hearing process, the parties are entitled to engage in discovery, i.e., a reasonable development of evidence on issues relevant to the complaint, although the Administrative Judge (AJ) may limit the quantity and timing of discovery. The AJ has full responsibility for the adjudication of the complaint, including the final selection of the witnesses and the determination of the hearing site.
Generally, an AJ will conduct a full hearing on the merits of a complaint. However, an AJ may dismiss a complaint for failing to meet the same procedural and jurisdictional requirements for which the agency is authorized to dismiss complaints, or issue a final decision on the merits without a hearing if the AJ determines that the complaint presents no material facts in genuine dispute.
The DHS must take final action on the complaint by issuing a final order within forty (40) days of receipt of the hearing file and AJ’s decision. The final order informs the complainant as to whether the DHS will fully implement the decision. The final order also informs the complainant of the right to file an appeal with the EEOC, the right to file a civil action in federal district court, the name of the proper defendant in such appeal or civil action, and the applicable time limits for such appeals or civil action. If the DHS’s final order does not fully implement the AJ’s decision, the DHS simultaneously files an appeal with the EEOC. If the DHS does not issue a final order within forty (40) days of receipt of the AJ’s decision, then the decision becomes the final action of the DHS.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is committed to resolving equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaints alleging discrimination at the earliest possible point in the complaint process. When an employee believes he or she has been discriminated against because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, status as a parent, genetic information, or retaliation for prior EEO involvement, the first step is to seek informal EEO counseling by contacting the Privacy and Diversity Office (PDO) EEO Complaint Intake Hotline at 1-877-MY-EEO-HELP (1-877-693-3643), by submitting a Request for EEO Counseling, or by contacting your servicing DCR Officer.
PDO staff members remain available to discuss specific situations and provide information to employees seeking consultation before entering the EEO complaint process. To preserve the right to file a formal EEO complaint, individuals who believe they have been subjected to unlawful discrimination must seek informal EEO counseling within 45 calendar days of the alleged discriminatory act. The allegation will be assigned to a PDO staff member to facilitate the informal EEO counseling. At the initial interview, the EEO counselor will explain the EEO complaint process and the option to participate in mediation.
Employment issues and concerns should be discussed with the appropriate management officials as quickly as possible. Consider using the mediation process to resolve your employment issue, as it provides an environment for expedient resolution with the appropriate CBP management official.