EEOC's federal case assessment efforts recall private sector program

By Drew Long cyberFEDS® Washington Bureau


WASHINGTON -- A case assessment program being developed by an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission field office has been compared to a similar program designed for the commission's private sector division.

EEOC officials acknowledge some similarities, but contend the programs are completely         different. Critics claim the assessment program was modeled after the private sector program and neither is appropriate for federal sector EEO complaints.

EEOC officials assert that the Washington Field Office's proposed Assessment Program for Hearings Units was not based on the commission's Priority Case Handling Procedures program, which was developed by the EEOC for its private sector cases. A senior official in the Washington Field Office, however, conceded that there are similarities because both categorize cases into three tracks.


Also on cyberFEDS®:

EEOC case handling reform project comes under fire (04/09/04)

Commission is still mum on EEO reform (01/20/04) With no plan on the table, Dominguez promises EEO reform (11/14/02) EEO reform discussions yield no calls for system overhaul (11/13/02) Controversial EEOC reform proposal was 'briefly' implemented (08/12/02) EEOC may eliminate hearing process (06/03/02)


In 2002, officials in the Washington Field Office briefly used the PCHP program to manage federal sector EEO cases, but stopped after widespread criticism. Now the field office is bargaining with the American Federation of Government Employees because it wants to implement the APHU to improve its EEO complaint processing.

But critics of both programs argue that they are basically the same, and that the APHU should go through the traditional regulatory process before implementation because it would alter the federal EEO process.

'Important differences'

The APHU calls for field office staff to categorize cases into red, yellow and green tracks before they are forwarded to an administrative judge. Cases slated for traditional processing, such as a hearing, would be coded green. Cases selected for summary judgment would be yellow, and cases deemed appropriate for dismissal would be red. The final decision on any case would be left to the AJ.

The PCHP divided cases into A, B and C categories. Cases coded A or B would proceed through the traditional process, though B cases would require additional information. Cases in the C category would be dismissed. EEOC AJs would not review category C cases.

Despite the similarities, Dana Hutter, acting director for the Washington Field Office, insists the APHU was not modeled after the PCHP.

"What PCHP [includes] is a decision by us as to which cases are going to be given priority and resources relative to the other [cases]," Hutter told cyberFEDS®. "It also provides for the immediate dismissal of cases that are categorized as C. The assessment process here does not carry with it the ultimate decision that goes with the PCHP private sector program. ... I can see the parallels, but there are important differences."

Negotiations continue

But the AFGE's Regina Andrew told cyberFEDS® that portions of the draft APHU document make references to putting cases into lettered categories.

"They set up a triage that is nothing more than the PCHP," said Andrew, president of AFGE local 3614, which represents EEOC employees in the Washington Field Office. "A lot of people have looked at [the assessment program document] and said the same thing."

The final version may not resemble the current version closely. Hutter is in negotiations with AFGE over the program and told cyberFEDS® that it could be altered.

Andrew posted a copy of the draft proposal on the local's Web site [PDF file].

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April 13, 2004

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