To: DSS Employees
By regulation, complainants and their representatives have the right to a reasonable amount of duty time to prepare and pursue an EEO complaint.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations require managers and supervisors to allow complainants who are employees "a reasonable amount of official time, when in official duty status, to prepare their EEO complaint and to respond to agency and EEOC requests for information". EEOC Management Directive (MD)-110, defines "reasonable" as "whatever is appropriate under the circumstances of the complaint". For example, an employee may need additional time to meet with his/her representative, participate in settlement negotiations, meet with an EEO Investigator, etc. Although the actual number of hours approved will vary according to the circumstances of the case, managers and supervisors must consider the need for employees to be available to perform work on a regular basis. In this regard, it is important that the employee and the supervisor arrive at a mutual understanding as to the amount of official time to be used prior to the employee's use of such time. The following guidance is provided to all managers and supervisors.
Since all duty hours reported on time and attendance records must be certified by the employee's supervisor as being hours worked or leave used, employees and their employee representatives seeking to use official time in conjunction with preparing an EEO complaint must obtain prior approval from their supervisors to ensure such requests are consistent with agency policy. The employee will be expected to provide the supervisor with sufficient information to determine if the amount of time being requested is reasonable. Requests must be made and approved in writing but need not reveal confidential case information. Employees and their representatives must request this time in advance from their supervisors. Key words here: request, and in advance.
Supervisors may legitimately exercise control over when the time may be used. If necessary, additional time can be negotiated verbally by the supervisor and the employee. The supervisor must document the approval of additional time in writing and provide a copy to the employee Supervisors are encouraged to consult with Employee Relations with any questions pertaining to setting limits on the amount of time, especially if such requests exceed 8 hours. In obtaining information to establish a reasonable amount of time, the employee will not be required to reveal confidential case information.
If any official time is denied, a written statement will be required from the supervisor containing the reason for the denial. A copy will be provided to the complainant and to the Office of DEO for inclusion in the complaint case file.
The policy contained in this letter pertains only to complaints filed under the EEOC regulations contained in 29 C.F.R. 1614. It does not change agency policy regarding official time and use of agency resources in conjunction with other dispute forums (e.g. negotiated grievance procedures, hotline complaints, etc.) which are similar to, but controlled by other regulations.
Additional information regarding the use of official time to prepare and pursue an EEO complaint can be obtained by contacting the Office of DEO at 571-305-6726.