As a federal employee, it is important to understand your rights when it comes to EEO violations and the process for bringing an EEO complaint.

If you are facing workplace discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, you have a right to file an EEO complaint.

The EEO complaint process typically involves three steps:

  1. EEO Counseling;
  2. The Formal Complaint;
  3. The EEOC hearing.

After the first step, EEO counseling, the next step is the formal complaint. Here’s a guide to help you navigate this process.

Step-by-Step Guide to Filing A Formal EEO Complaint

1. Receiving the Notice of Right to File:

  • After the EEO counseling period concludes, if the issue is not resolved, you will receive a “Notice of Right to File a Formal Complaint.”
  • This notice marks the starting point for filing your formal complaint.

2. Filing The Formal Complaint:

  • You must file your formal complaint within 15 calendar days of receiving the notice.
  • The complaint should be submitted in writing, specifying the discriminatory actions, the basis of the discrimination (e.g., race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, or retaliation), and the relief you are seeking.
  • Generally, this is done using a form provided by your agency’s EEO office.

3. Submission Details and Documentation:

  • Your complaint must be sent to your agency’s EEO office; usually this can be done by email.
  • Ensure that all required details and any supporting documents are included.
  • Keep copies of everything you submit for your records.

4. Acknowledgment of Receipt:

  • The agency will acknowledge receipt of your formal complaint in writing.
  • This acknowledgment confirms the date you filed your formal complaint.

5. Acceptance or Dismissal of the Complaint:

  • The EEO office will review your complaint to determine if it meets the legal requirements.
  • The EEO office might dismiss your complaint or parts of it for various reasons, such as untimeliness or lack of jurisdiction.
  • If your complaint is dismissed, you will receive a written explanation; you will have an opportunity to challenge this later in the process.
  • If your complaint is accepted, the agency will send you written notice of the acceptance that includes a summary of your claims.

6. The Investigation:

  • Once your complaint is accepted, the agency has 180 calendar days to complete an internal investigation. This period can be extended by an additional 90 days if both parties agree.
  • The agency will assign an investigator, who may be an agency employee or a contractor. The investigator’s role is to gather the facts, including by obtaining statements from you and other witnesses and compiling relevant documents.
  • The investigator will collect evidence through various means, including interviews, submission of documents, and written questionnaires. Most investigators will request that you and other witnesses submit a written statement.

7. Report of Investigation (ROI):

  • Upon completing the investigation, the investigator will prepare a Report of Investigation (ROI).
  • This report will include all gathered evidence, interview summaries, and relevant documents.
  • The ROI is a crucial document that will be used in the subsequent stages of the EEO process.

8. Post-Investigation Options:

  • After receiving the ROI, you have four options: (1) withdraw your complaint; (2) request that the Agency issue a Final Agency Decision (FAD); (3) request a hearing in the EEOC; or (4) file a lawsuit in federal court.
  • Ordinarily the best options are to either request a hearing in the EEOC or file a civil lawsuit; most cases proceed to the EEOC.
  • A request for hearing in the EEOC must be filed within 30 days after receipt of the ROI.

Importance of the Formal Complaint and Legal Guidance

The formal complaint is a critical step in the federal EEO complaint process. It is important to ensure that your complaint is timely and detailed, and that you provide supporting information in the investigation.

Additionally, seeking advice from an experienced federal employment attorney can provide valuable guidance and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.

The attorneys of Bramnick Creed, LLC have a deep knowledge of federal employment law and extensive experience in representing federal employees. For more information about our federal employment practice or to contact us, go to our website at or contact Attorney Joe Creed at (301) 945-7800 or