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What is discrimination?

Discrimination is unfair treatment or denial of privileges because of an individual's membership in a protected group.

Who is protected by the laws prohibiting discrimination?

All individuals are protected based on their race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, and disability or prior participation in the EEO process.  Although discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is not covered by Title VII, it is prohibited by an executive order and Department of Homeland Security rules of conduct.

What is retaliation?

Retaliation, also referred to as reprisal, is the taking of any adverse action against an individual because of his or her prior participation in the EEO process or opposition to discriminatory practices.

What is sexual harassment?

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:  (1)  submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment; (2)  submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis of employment decisions affecting such individual; or (3)  such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

What should I do if I am a manager and an employee comes to me with allegations of sexual harassment?

As a manager, you should review the allegations promptly and take immediate appropriate action.  Appropriate action might include: publicizing the Department's zero tolerance policy; providing training; taking disciplinary action against the harasser; monitoring the situation on an ongoing basis; and taking corrective action to place the victim in the position he/she would have had absent the alleged harassment.

Can I be held personally liable if I am found to have discriminated against an employee?

A manager will not be held individually liable in an administrative complaint.  However, the victim of discrimination may bring a civil action in court, and you could be held liable.

Can I be disciplined if I am found to have discriminated against an employee?

If it is determined that you engaged in improper or inappropriate conduct, you may be subject to discipline, including counseling, warnings, reprimands, suspension, transfer to another post of duty, or termination.

What is "reasonable accommodation" for a disabled employee?

Reasonable accommodations are adjustments or modifications to job application procedures, a job, employment practices, or a work environment that enable a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.  They are intended to enable qualified disabled individuals to perform the essential functions of a position, and designed to remove physical and procedural workplace or employment barriers.

How much time do I have to contact an EEO counselor?

Contact with a counselor must be made within 45 calendar days of the date you became aware of the alleged discrimination.

How do I know whom the EEO counselors are?

The names and telephone numbers of EEO counselors in your area should be posted in areas accessible to all employees, such as in break rooms or on bulletin boards.  If the names and numbers are not posted, contact your local EEO office.

What are my obligations if I am contacted by an EEO counselor or investigator?

Department of Homeland Security policy and EEO regulations require that all employees fully cooperate during the complaint process.  Lack of cooperation may result in disciplinary action.

What is a class complaint?

A class complaint is a written complaint of discrimination filed on behalf of a class.  A class is a group of employees, former employees, or applicants for employment who allege, via a designated agent, that they have been, or are being, adversely affected by an employment practice that discriminates against the group because of their common race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion or disability.