By Godson Umejiego, Bureau Chief, The Americas
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued a report titled “Timeliness of Merit Final Agency Decisions in the Federal Sector.” A merit final agency decision (FAD) is one means by which the claims raised in an equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaint are adjudicated. A merit FAD contains findings of fact and conclusions of law on each claim raised by the complainant, provides the rationale for dismissal of any claims (as applicable), and determines appropriate remedies and relief when discrimination is found.
Federal agencies must generally issue merit FADs within 60 days of the complainant’s choosing a merit FAD. Any delays may impact the outcome of a complainant’s claims and undermine the effectiveness of the EEO process. The EEOC identified promising practices among agencies with high merit FAD timeliness, including:
- Leadership prioritized merit FAD timeliness.
- Appropriate staffing, funding, and training for writing FADs.
- Attorneys and experienced EEO professionals hired as FAD writers.
- FAD writers held accountable for timeliness.
- Availability of attorneys for legal advice and review of complex matters.
- The EEOC also identified impediments to timely FAD issuance, such as:
- Heavy caseloads and backlogs.
- Inadequate investigations that require supplemental investigations.
- Difficulty recruiting and retaining FAD writers, particularly because these positions tend to be lower paid than attorney positions.
- Prolonged review and approval process.
- Lack of proper training and tracking systems.
The EEOC used multiple methods to gain insight into the factors that determine the timeliness of merit FADs for federal agencies. First, the EEOC gathered FY 2018–21 data from the EEOC’s Form 462 and EEOC Management Directive 715 (MD-715) reports. The EEOC also conducted a survey of federal sector EEO directors and sent questionnaires to a subset of survey respondents. Lastly, the EEOC interviewed officials from three agencies with high merit FAD timeliness.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.