File a Complaint

How to File a Public Civil Rights Complaint

If you are feel you have been discriminated against because of your race, color, national origin, age or disability in your involvement with or in an attempt to obtain the following services then contact the agency provided and follow their instructions for filing a complaint:

For a complete listing of agency that protect civil rights read "Getting Uncle Sam to Enforce Your Civil Rights, Chapter 3." To learn more about civil rights under Federal statutes please view the Civil Rights Fact Sheets.

How to File an Internal EEO Complaint

You may file an EEO Complaint if you believe you have been discriminated against because of your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, and/or sexual orientation or reprisal for participation in prior EEO activity.

  • WHO CAN FILE? An employee, former employee, or an applicant for employment with Reclamation who meets the threshold above may file an EEO Complaint. However, visitors, employees and clients of organizations outside Reclamation which receive Federal funding or assistance from Reclamation should go through the External Civil Rights Complaint Process. 
  • FIRST, SEE A COUNSELOR. You must discuss the alleged discriminatory matter with an EEO Counselor within 45 days of the date of the incident that gave rise to your complaint. You may wish to pursue an informal solution through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process.  The EEO Counselor will discuss this option with you. 
    • Informal : If the attempts to informally resolve your complaint by the EEO Counselor have been unsuccessful, you will be provided, in writing, with a notice of final interview (NOFI) and your right to file a formal complaint of discrimination against Reclamation.  
    • Formal: You have 15 calendar days from the date of receipt of the NOFI to submit your formal complaint in writing to your Bureau Manager, Civil Rights Office; or the Director, Office for Civil Rights (OCR). 
  • INVESTIGATION: Reclamation has 180 calendar days from the date you filed your complaint to complete the investigation and provide you with the Report of Investigation (ROI).  Sometimes, extension of the 180 days may be necessary to complete the investigation.  You have 30 days from receipt of the ROI to select one of the courses of action described in the "election" notice.  If your complaint involves a matter appealable to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), you will be issued a decision on the merits of your case, without a hearing, by the Director, OCR.  
  • HEARING : If you request a hearing before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), you will be allowed to present witnesses and evidence on your behalf to an Administrative Judge.  The Administrative Judge will issue a decision on your complaint that will be subject to a final order by the Director, OCR. 
  • FINAL AGENCY DECISION (FAD) or final order: The OCR will issue a final decision on your complaint within 60 calendar days from the date of your receipt of the EEOC Administrative Judge's decision, or within 60 days after receipt of your notice of election for a final decision on the merits.  
  • APPEAL: You may appeal the decision of the Director, OCR to the EEOC within 30 calendar days of your receipt of the final agency decision or final order. 
  • CIVIL ACTION: In lieu of an appeal with the EEOC, you may, within 90 calendar days of the date of your receipt of the final decision or final order, file a civil action in an appropriate United States District Court. Also, you may file a civil action 180 calendar days after you filed your individual complaint if a final decision has not been issued and you have not appealed to EEOC. 
  • COMPENSATORY DAMAGES: If there is a finding of discrimination, in certain cases, you may be entitled to compensatory damages.  
  • SPECIAL CASES: Cases regarding age, sexual orientation, mixed cases (appealable to the MSPB), negotiated grievances, and class complaints are handled somewhat differently. See your EEO Staff.  
    • The newly revised EEO complaint process for federal employees and applicants for employment is governed by regulations issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at 29 CFR § 1614
    • DOI Equal Opportunity procedures for processing complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation are found at 373 DM 7 (PDF 47KB).

EEO Resources

EEO Complaint Flowchart (PDF 84KB)

Official Time in the EEO Process--Employee Guide (PDF 68KB)

Hostile Work Environment 



Last Updated: 4/6/18