Contact with Agency HR Personnel and Management Does Not Constitute EEO Contact

 

Via EEOC Takako Y. v. Dep’t of State, EEOC Appeal No. 2021000174:
Contact with Agency Human Resources Personnel and Management Does Not Constitute EEO Contact.  The Commission affirmed the Agency’s dismissal of Complainant’s complaint for failure to timely contact an EEO Counselor.  It was undisputed that Complainant made EEO contact more than 45 days after the alleged discriminatory incident.  While Complainant asserted that she contacted Human Resources, high-level managers, and Agency legal advisors within the time limitation, Complainant stated that she was seeking reconsideration of the Agency’s decision to terminate her candidacy for a specific position.  The record showed that she did not seek to begin the EEO process during that time, and the Commission has consistently held that utilizing other agency procedures does not toll the time limit for contacting an EEO Counselor.  The Commission also noted that Complainant did not specify if, or how, she was prevented from making EEO contact by the pandemic.  Therefore, the Commission found no justification for extending the 45-day limitation period.  Takako Y. v. Dep’t of State, EEOC Appeal No. 2021000174 (Jan. 22, 2021).
EEOC Regulation 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(1) requires that complaints of discrimination should be brought to the attention of the Equal Employment Opportunity Counselor within forty-five (45) days of the date of the matter alleged to be discriminatory or, in the case of personnel action, within
forty-five (45) days of the effective date of the action.


Here, it is undisputed that Complainant made EEO contact on July 29, 2020, which is more than 45 days after the alleged discriminatory incident. Complainant argues that she made contact with HR on March 13, 2020 and with high-level personnel and Agency legal advisors on May 12, 2020, regarding her candidacy termination due to age. We have consistently held that “a complainant may satisfy the criterion of Counselor contact by initiating [contact] to an agency official logically connected with the EEO process, even if that official is not an EEO Counselor.” Floyd v. National Guard Bureau, EEOC request No. 05890086 (June 22, 1989). Here, however, Complainant describes her March 13, 2020 HR communication and May 12, 2020 personnel and legal advisor communication as seeking reconsideration of the candidacy termination. The record shows that, while Complainant contacted individuals about reconsidering her candidacy termination, she did not seek EEO counseling to begin the EEO process until July 29, 2020. We also note that the Commission has consistently held that the utilization of agency procedures, union grievances, and other remedial processes does not toll the time limit for contacting an EEO Counselor. See Ellis v. United States Postal Service, EEOC Appeal No. 01992093 (November 29, 2000).
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Additionally, Complainant argues that due to COVID-19 the 45-day time frame should be extended. However, Complainant does not state with any specificity if or how she was prevented from making EEO counselor contact by the pandemic. As such, we find no justification has been provided for extending the 45-day limitation period.

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