Equal Employment Opportunity - Frequently Asked Questions

What is discrimination?

Discrimination occurs when an employer intentionally treats one employee differently from another when the two are similarly situated and the treatment is based on race, color, age, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or EEO activity.  This is called disparate treatment.  

Discrimination can also occur when an employment decision is based on neutral factors and has an adverse impact on a protected group.  This is called disparate impact.


Who is protected by the laws prohibiting discrimination?

All individuals are protected based on their race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability, protected genetic information or prior participation in the EEO process. Although discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and parental status are not covered by Title VII, they are prohibited by executive orders and Treasury's 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 harassment?

Harassment is physical or verbal conduct that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.  The harassment must be based on a protected basis and be so severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of your employment.


What is "reasonable accommodation" for a disabled person?

Reasonable accommodations are modifications or adjustments to job application procedures, or a work environment that enable an applicant or employee with a disability to be considered qualified for the position.  Employers are required to provide a reasonable accommodation when an individual with a disability requests one, unless it creates an undue hardship on the agency.

How do I file an EEO complaint ?

To file a complaint you must contact an EEO Counselor in the Treasury Bureau where your complaint arose.  For the name and telephone number of an EEO Counselor, contact your local EEO office.

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

Filing deadlines are important; you must contact a counselor within 45 calendar days from when you first became aware of the alleged discrimination.


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.