U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20250
Civil Rights Accountability Policy and Procedures
January 18, 2006
Office of Civil Rights and Office
of Human Capital Management
Departmental Regulation (DR) establishes the civil rights accountability policy
and procedures for ensuring that appropriate disciplinary or corrective actions
are taken when discrimination, retaliation, civil rights violations, or related
misconduct occurs. This DR is intended
to strengthen existing civil rights policies within the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) and encourage agencies to work to resolve complaints at the
earliest possible opportunity.
is the policy of USDA to treat customers and employees fairly and equitably,
with dignity and respect, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex,
religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or
familial status, parental status and protected genetic information, or because
all or part of an individual’s income is derived from public assistance. Retaliation against customers or employees
for opposition to discrimination of any kind in contravention of this policy
will not be tolerated.
officials, managers, supervisors and other employees shall be held accountable
for discrimination, retaliation, civil rights violations, or related
misconduct. Discrimination, retaliation,
civil rights violations, or related misconduct will be evaluated, in accordance
with this policy and with the governing Federal and USDA regulations regarding
discipline and adverse actions, by agency human resources (HR) offices, in
conjunction with the Office of Human Capital Management (OHCM), to determine if
disciplinary or other corrective action is warranted.
In order to further the goal
of encouraging resolution of issues at the earliest possible opportunity, these
procedures do not apply to voluntary resolutions reached on matters prior to
initiation of the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint process but do
apply to formal complaints filed with the Office of Civil Rights.
Heads, staff office directors, managers and supervisors are responsible for a work
environment free of discrimination or retaliation and have a duty to uphold the
civil rights of customers and employees.
As a basic requirement, Agency Heads and the directors of HR and Civil
Rights will work together to ensure that this accountability policy is
effectively administered within and reported by the agencies and staff offices in a timely
manner. To deter violations, agencies and staff offices are required to take
appropriate corrective or disciplinary action on findings of discrimination,
retaliation, civil rights violations
or misconduct in employment and
program matters. Disciplinary actions
should be taken pursuant to the USDA Guide for Disciplinary Penalties
(Departmental Personnel Manual (DPM), Chapter 751, Appendix A) and prevailing
laws and regulations.
and supervisors will be held accountable for failure to take appropriate action
in response to any findings of discrimination, retaliation, civil rights
violations or related misconduct. Annual performance appraisals for managers
and supervisors shall include an evaluation of their contributions to USDA’s
commitment to civil rights and equal opportunity, and adherence to its civil
rights policy. Managers and supervisors
are responsible and accountable for maintaining a civil rights program that
will accomplish the strategic civil rights goals.
DR cancels the Assistant Secretary for Administration’s memorandum dated July
17, 2000, “Civil Rights Accountability Policy,” establishing financial thresholds
that triggered referral to the OHCM. The
current policy does not require any specific financial threshold before action
These procedures are to be used in conjunction with:
a DPM, Chapter 751, including Appendix
A, USDA Guide for Disciplinary Penalties.
b DR 4300-001, Processing EEO Complaints
of Discrimination, dated March 3, 1999.
c DR 4300-006, Civil Rights Policy for
USDA, dated June 30, 2000.
d DR 4300-009, Equal Employment
Opportunity Complaints where a Department Senior Civil Rights Official is the
Responsible Management Official, dated January 9, 2001.
e DR 4710-001, USDA Alternative Dispute
Resolution Policy, dated July 20, 2001.
f Departmental Manual (DM) 4300-001,
EEO Complaint Processing Procedures, dated July 20, 2001.
g DM 4330-001, Procedures for Processing
Discrimination Complaints and Conducting Civil Rights Compliance Reviews in
USDA Conducted Programs and Activities, dated October 18, 2001.
h DM 4330-2, Procedures for Processing
Complaints Alleging Unlawful Discrimination in USDA Federally-Assisted Programs
and Activities, dated March 31, 2000.
must provide notice of this DR to each of its employees. Copies may be distributed in printed format
or by e-mail, or employees may be notified that this DR is available on the
USDA website. Copies should also be
provided in alternative formats or languages upon request.
Employees shall be notified of this DR or subsequent
changes to it, within 90 days of publication, or at the time of the employee’s
purposes of this Regulation:
a “Alternative Dispute Resolution” refers to any number of conflict resolution
techniques that assist employees,
managers, supervisors, agencies, and USDA customers in resolving disputes.
b “Conciliation Agreement” is a
contract/agreement between the USDA and a customer that creates an obligation
to do or not do a particular thing.
c “Corrective Action” means
measures taken that are not disciplinary or adverse actions.
d “Decision” means a
determination arrived at after consideration of the facts and any applicable
law. It also refers to a determination
of a judicial body (i.e., a judgment or decree pronounced by a court) or
administrative body (i.e., Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),
administrative Law Judge (ALJ), etc.).
e “Disciplinary Action” is an
action taken to correct the conduct of an employee and includes a letter of
reprimand, suspension, reduction in grade or pay, or removal from the Federal
f “Final Agency Decision (FAD)”
means a conclusive determination, by USDA, of a formal equal employment
opportunity or program complaint that
disposes of all of the issues involved.
g “Settlement Agreement” means a
written agreement by which parties having disputed matters between them reach
or ascertain what is coming from one to the other, without resort to further
inquiry to determine whether disciplinary or corrective action is warranted
shall be initiated following:
a A FAD that
includes a finding of discrimination (for EEO and program discrimination
b Decisions issued by Administrative
Judges of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that become final,
the EEOC Office of Federal Operations, or the Merit Systems Protection Board
that include findings of discrimination ;
c ALJ decisions with findings of
discrimination (for program discrimination complaints);
d Court decisions on EEO or program
discrimination complaints with findings of discrimination;
e A finding of misconduct related to
civil rights; and
f Investigations, compliance reviews or
audits of civil rights or related activities performed by entities within or
outside of USDA that include formal findings of discrimination or misconduct
related to civil rights.
The existence of the following actions will be reported
using the appropriate attached form:
a Settlement Agreements of EEO complaints;
b Settlement and Conciliation Agreements
of program discrimination complaints.
a Agency Civil Rights directors, agency
representatives and the Office of the General Counsel shall be responsible for
forwarding to the Office of Civil Rights (CR) any Covered and Reported Actions
that were not issued by CR. These
documents shall be forwarded as expeditiously as possible, and no later than
fifteen (15) calendar days after the document is received. .
the Office of Civil Rights Accountability Case Record form (Appendix A), CR
shall forward to the HR Director for the agency or staff office at issue, a
copy of each Covered Action, along with a copy of the pertinent complaint
file(s) maintained by CR, within ten (10) calendar days of CR receiving notice
of the Covered Action. CR shall provide
OHCM a copy of the Office of Civil Rights Accountability Case Record form
only. OHCM may request additional
documentation from CR or the agency HR Director, if needed.
c CR shall
review all Reported Actions and determine whether any should be referred to the
HR Director for the agency or staff office.
When determined by CR that a Reported Action should be referred, a copy
of each Reported Action shall be forwarded by CR to the HR Director for the
agency or staff office at issue, using the Office of Civil Rights
Accountability Case Record form, within ten (10) calendar days of CR's receipt
of the Reported Action. The HR Director shall determine whether additional
documentation, such as the discrimination complaint or investigative report, is
needed to conduct an inquiry. Reported
Actions shall be handled in a manner to ensure that the confidentiality of any
settlement or conciliation agreement is
protected except as required by law.
In addition, any request for additional documentation or inquiry by an
HR Director shall not contravene the confidentiality normally accorded to the
alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process, pursuant to the Administrative Dispute
Resolution Act of 1996.
d Within twenty-five (25) calendar days
of receiving the Office of Civil Right Accountability Case Record, the HR
Director shall initiate an inquiry into the underlying circumstances leading
to the Covered or Reported Action. If
the underlying circumstances implicate activities of a Senior Executive Service
employee or Senior Scientific Research Service employee, then the Agency Head
shall initiate the inquiry, review the results, draft a proposal for
disciplinary or corrective action, if appropriate, and request delegated
authority from the Department to take the action. If a political appointee is implicated, the
agency shall conduct the inquiry and include the Agency Head's recommendation
on appropriate action and then forward all information and recommendations to
Departmental Administration, Office of Planning, Coordination, and Executive
Resources for coordination with the White House Liaison.
e The inquiry conducted by the HR
Director shall be used to determine whether corrective action or a proposal of
disciplinary action is warranted for discrimination, retaliation, civil rights
violations, or related misconduct. The
HR Director shall consult with OHCM before implementing a proposal of
disciplinary action if the inquiry determines that discrimination, retaliation,
civil rights violations, or related misconduct has occurred.
f Using the Agency/Staff Office Case
Report (Appendix B), the HR Director shall report to CR and OHCM the results of
the inquiry and whether any disciplinary or corrective action was taken. The Case Report will be provided to CR and
OHCM no later than ten (10) calendar days after the inquiry is completed and
any disciplinary action is proposed or corrective action is issued.
g At the end of
each fiscal year, OHCM shall prepare an annual report setting forth the
number of disciplinary or corrective actions taken pursuant to this
policy. The report shall set forth the
specific nature of the disciplinary or corrective action taken and shall identify
the Covered or Reported Action giving rise to the inquiry that led to the
disciplinary or corrective action. The
annual report shall be provided to CR no later than January 15.
OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS
(3) AGENCY CASE
(4) TYPE OF CASE: ° EMPLOYMENT ° PROGRAM
TYPE: ° DECISION WITH FINDING OF DISCRIMINATION
(6) DATE OF DECISION OR SETTLEMENT:
(7) DATE OF REFERRAL:
Form AD-1203 (1/06)