Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Pre-Complaint Stage

Under the current DOT structure and procedures, the Operating Administrations (OAs) Offices of Civil Rights administer and process the pre-complaint stage. All Federal agencies must establish or make an ADR Program available.

Counseling Sessions

EEO counselors provide information to the aggrieved individual(s) concerning how the Federal sector EEO complaint process works, including time frames. At the initial counseling session, EEO Counselors must advise individual(s) in writing of their rights and responsibilities within the EEO complaint process, including the right to request a hearing before an EEOC Administrative Judge (AJ) or an immediate final decision from the agency following its investigation of the complaint. EEO Counselors will describe how their OA's ADR program works, the opportunity to participate in ADR, and the right to file a formal complaint if ADR does not result in a resolution. The EEO Counselor must also inform the individual(s) of their right to proceed directly to court in a lawsuit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), of their duty to mitigate damages, and that only claims raised in pre-complaint counseling may be alleged in a following complaint filed with the agency.

Counseling Timelines

Counseling must be completed within 30-calendar days of the date the agency's EEO office was contacted to request counseling. An individual may agree for an extension of up to an additional 60-calendar days.  However, the entire pre-complaint stage can not exceed 90-calendar days.  If the matter is not resolved in that time period, the EEO Counselor must inform the individual(s) in writing of the right to file a discrimination complaint. If the individual(s) chooses ADR in lieu of traditional EEO counseling, counseling will automatically be extended an additional 60-calendar days, but will never exceed 90-calendar days.

Requesting Mediation

If an individual(s) chooses to use mediation, he or she will submit a Request for Mediation form. The case will be reviewed to ensure that mediation is appropriate and not cause further delays in resolving any issue(s). The agency and the individual(s) will be sent an Agreement to Mediate form to fill out and turn in. The case is then referred to a mediator.


Once a mediator is selected, he or she may contact each party for a pre-mediation meeting. These meetings are confidential and are designed to help clear the way for communication and resolution during mediation. Each party will be advised on the mediation process.

Mediation Session

Mediation will be conducted in a neutral location. Here, each party and the mediator will discuss options and methods of resolution. It may take more than one session or several individual meetings between each party and the mediator to reach a settlement.


If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the mediator will inform the OA Mediation Coordinator.  The OA Mediation Coordinator will request the EEO Counselor to schedule a final interview and issue a Notice of Right to File a Discrimination Complaint (Notice).  If the parties reach a settlement, the mediator will finalize a settlement agreement. If the agency fails to comply with the settlement agreement, the individual(s) has 30-calendar days (from the date he/she knew of the non-compliance) to contact the Departmental Office of Civil Rights.

Notice of Final Interview

Upon an individual(s)' receipt of the Notice, the individual(s) has 15-calendar days to file a formal complaint. The formal complaint must identify the agency official with whom the complaint must be filed and whether or not the individual(s) is being legally represented.

Last updated: Wednesday, April 7, 2021