Quarterly Update on Complaints

In the last issue of The Civil Rights Connection, we focused on FY-97 complaint statistics and the issues that were most frequently alleged as the basis for complaints. In this edition, we will focus on FY-98 statistics, the complaint process itself, and the formal phase of that process.

The formal complaint process is begun only when an aggrieved party does not have his or her complaint resolved through the efforts of a counselor or through the Alternative Dispute Resolution mediation process, and chooses to file a formal Discrimination Complaint. The formal complaint process involves several steps and may result in a Final Agency Decision (FAD) issued by USIA. If discrimination is proven, full relief for the discriminatory act will involve appropriate corrective action. However, as the statistics below will indicate, the vast majority of cases are settled informally, others are withdrawn, and some are dismissed.

During FY-98, OCR received a total of 380 complaints, many of which were settled informally or withdrawn. At the beginning of FY-98, there were 64 formal complaints pending from FY-97. During FY-98, 49 additional formal complaints were filed, 62 formal complaints were closed , and 55 formal complaints (including four which were remanded to USIA by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) remained open at the end of the fiscal year. Of the 62 cases that were closed, 20 were dismissed for lack of merit or failure to produce sufficient evidence, and 15 FADs indicated that no discrimination took place. Thus, out of the original 380 complaints, only 27 resulted in some kind of corrective action.

A common misunderstanding about EEO offices and the EEO process is that anyone who walks in with a complaint automatically gets promoted or gets a monetary settlement. As our statistics indicate, complainants with legitimate EEO grievances, the facts of which have been verified, prevail. Other complaints may be dismissed or may be resolved through counseling or mediation. It is important for managers and employees to understand EEO law, process, and intent. Detailed information may be found on the OCR website on the main domestic USIA home page under "Inside USIA" or on the USIA internal home page under "USIA Administrative."

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