Members are encouraged to use the chain of command to identify and correct unlawful discriminatory practices. This includes processing and resolving complaints of unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment. The chain of command is responsible for creating an environment free from unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment. Two options are available:
1. Informal: The individual may resolve the complaint on his/her own, request intervention from a co-worker, use the chain of command, or use the Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR is used to facilitate communications between the disputants and lead to the early resolution of informal cases.
2. Formal: Complaint is filed and addressed by the EO office. The complainant has 60 days from the time the alleged behavior occurred to file a formal complaint. The complainant must provide extenuating circumstances if they exceed this timeframe. The EO office conducts a complaint clarification to determine whether a formal EO complaint is supported by a preponderance of the credible evidence. The complaint clarification process includes interviewing or taking statements from persons (complainant, witnesses, and alleged offender) who may have information relevant to the complaint and gathering data from records or reports.
Click here for the EO Program Orientation & Complaints Process Guide
DOD Policy and Air Force Policy
DOD Policy: Promote an environment free from personal, social, or institutional barriers that prevent Service members from rising to the highest level of responsibility possible. Service members shall be evaluated only on individual merit, fitness, and capability. Unlawful discrimination against persons or groups based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin is contrary to good order and discipline and is counterproductive to combat readiness and mission accomplishment. Unlawful discrimination shall not be condoned. (DODD 1350.2)
AF Policy (Military): The Air Force will conduct its affairs free from unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment. It provides equal opportunity and treatment for all members irrespective of age, color, national origin, race, ethnic group, religion, or gender, except as prescribed by statue or policy. (AFI 36-2706)
AF Policy (Civilian): It is AF policy to provide equal opportunity in employment for all persons and maintain a work environment free from unlawful discrimination and harassment. Resolving EEO complaints at the lowest possible organizational level is essential to Air Force mission accomplishment, employee morale and work productivity. (AFI 36-1201)
Defining Sexual Harassment
Sexual Harassment is defined as:
Quid Pro Quo: This term simply means "this for that." If you do this for me, I'll do that for you. Something of value for something of value. Usually involves supervisor and subordinate. (Note: Quid Pro Quo now known as Tangible Employment Action).
Intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment: This involves the impact, or effect, behaviors have on an individual. With this condition, the intent of the behavior is not necessarily an element of determining sexual harassment. While the intent of the alleged offender is given consideration, the effect (impact) of that person's behavior sometimes causes the intent to be irrelevant.
Further, any person in a supervisory or command position who uses or condones any form of sexual behavior to control, influence, or affect the career, pay, or job of a Military member or civilian employee is engaging in sexual harassment.
And, any Military member or civilian employee who makes deliberate or repeated unwelcome verbal comments, gestures, or physical contact of a sexual nature in the workplace is also engaging in sexual harassment.
A federal employee or applicant who believes that s/he has been discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40 years or older), disability (mental or physical) or who believes that s/he has been subjected to harassment (sexual or non sexual) or retaliated against for opposing discrimination or for participating in the complaint process. These individuals can file an informal complaint of discrimination. The aggrieved must contact an EO Counselor within 45 calendar days from the alleged incident or when they became aware of the discrimination. (29 CFR 1614.105) This allows the EO Counselor to try and resolve the complaint at the lowest possible level.
1. Informal: EO attempts to resolve complaint at the lowest level. The EO Specialist is a neutral party and is not an advocate to the complainant or to management. Attempts at resolution include the use of ADR, based on complainant remedies. The EO Counselor has 30 days to complete the informal process unless the complainant extends the time.
2. Formal: If the EO Specialist cannot resolve the complaint at the informal stage, the complainant (aggrieved) has the right to file a formal complaint. The complaint must be filed in writing within 15 calendar days of the Notice of Right to File.
3. The complaint will be investigated by Investigative Resolution Division (IRD). The IRD investigates Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) discrimination complaints for Department of Defense (DoD) agencies. They are conducted at the request of the agency after an EEO complaint has been filed with the agency. The investigative file is sent up to the Air Force Civilian Appellate Review Office (AFCARO) who will make a determination of whether or not discrimination has occurred. The formal EEO complaint process up to this point can take up 180 days. Both the agency and the complainant have appeal rights on the decision and ultimately can file in U.S. District Court.
In order for the complaint to be processed at the formal stage, the initial contact must be within 45 calendar days of the date of the matter alleged to be discriminatory or, in the case of a personnel action, within 45 calendar days of the effective date or when s/he becomes aware of the personnel action. The 45-day time limit may be extended if permission is granted by the complainant for reasons outlined in 29 C.F.R. Section 1614.105(a). To be deemed as initiating contact, the aggrieved person must state a basis (one of the Title VII categories) of his/her claim and an action must have occurred. For example, if there is a proposed action - Proposed letter of counseling issued to the aggrieved but no action has been taken, then the complaint may be dismissed based on an action that has not occurred, unless the action is part of a pattern of continuing harassment.
Formal Complaint processing takes 1-5 years or more and ADR is always an option. It is always the goal of the EO office to restore the work environment to mission readiness. This is beneficial to all parties.
Your Wing Equal Opportunity Program Manager provides assistance/complaint resolution regarding unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, nation origin and sex for military members to include age and disability for Department of Defense employees.
The 501st Combat Support Wing Equal Opportunity Office is located in Building 657, Room 138, RAF Alconbury.
Unit 501 Box 23
APO AE 09470
Air Force ADR program
The Administrative Disputes Resolution Act of 1996 (ADRA) requires each agency to designate a senior official to be the agency Dispute Resolution specialist. The ADRA also requires each agency to adopt agency-wide policy and procedures and to provide training on a regular basis for employees involved in alternative dispute resolution (ADR). A number of other statutes, executive orders, regulations, and policies require the Air Force to take steps to promote its use.
The Secretary of the Air Force (SECAF) recognized that these mandates cut across all functional areas, to include workplace, contract, acquisition, and environmental matters, and that the key to a successful ADR program would be the integration of ADR efforts across functional lines. As a result, the SECAF issued Air Force Policy Directive 51-12 (Apr. 99) (AFDP) to formalize the role of the Office of the General Counsel (SAF/GC) in promoting ADR in all functional areas in the Air Force. Among other things, AFPD 51-12 requires the General Counsel's office to develop Air Force-wide ADR policy, programs and procedures to ensure the Air Force develops an integrated approach to implementing the myriad mandates to increase the use of ADR.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Office
RAF Menwith Hill (SMSgt Grant) Bldg 520, Room 13
COMM: 01423-777 359