U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs

EEO Complaint Process

Information Stage

You have the right to initiate contact with an EEO Counselor within 45 calendar days of the date of the alleged discriminatory act, or in the case of a personnel action, with 45 calendar days of the effective date of the action.

The Counselor will advise you of your rights and responsibilities, assist you in identifying your claim, offer Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), and attempt resolution (within no more than 90 calendar days, unless extended, or if ADR is chosen). If informal resolution is not possible, you will be provided with a written Notice of Your Right to File a Discrimination Complaint.

Formal Stage

You have 15 calendar days after receipt of the Notice to file a formal complaint with the EEO Office. Your complaint must be specific and limited to those matters that you previously discussed with the EEO Counselor.

You will receive written acknowledgement of the EEO Office's receipt of your formal complaint. You will be notified of the claim (s) accepted for investigation. If your complaint is accepted for investigation, the EEO Office will conduct an impartial investigation.

The Office of Justice Programs has the following responsibilities: to ensure a through and fair investigation is conducted and completed within 180 calendar days, to encourage settlement attempts; and to provide you with a copy of the final investigative report and your notice of rights.

You have 30 calendar days after receipt of the investigative report and your rights to request an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) hearing or an immediate final agency decision (FAD) by the Complaint Adjudication Office (CAO), Department of Justice. If you fail to respond to your notice of rights or request an immediate FAD, the EEO Office will forward your case to the CAO for issuance of a FAD, which will be based on their review of the investigative report and complaint file.

If you request a hearing and decision from the EEOC, and Administrative Judge (AJ) will oversee discovery, conduct a hearing, and issue a decision. If a finding of discrimination is made, the AJ will order an appropriate remedy. The judge must complete this process within 180 Calendar days for receipt of your request for a hearing.

After an AJ's decision, the CAO has 40 calendar days to take final action on the complaint by issuing a final order (FO) which will notify you whether the agency will fully implement the AJ's decision or will appeal the decision to the EEOC.

After you receive the FO, you may appeal to the EEOC's Office of Federal Operations within 30 calendar days of receipt. You may also file a civil action in a U.S. District Court within 90 calendar days of your receipt of the FO. In addition, you also have the option of filing a civil action in a U.S. District Court at any point beyond 180 calendar days of filing your formal complaint, as long as there has been no final action or appeal.


A complaintant alleging age discrimination may bypass the administrative complaint process and file a civil action in the U.S. District Court provided you first provide the EEOC with written notice of intent to sue under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

Complaints filed on the bases of sexual orientation and parental status will be processed by the Department of Justice through final agency decision. There is no right to a hearing or appeal to the EEOC or to bring an action in U.S. District Court.

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