November is Manatee Awareness Month; but no matter what time of year it is, manatees deserve to be celebrated. These amazing creatures fulfill a unique niche by serving as indicator species for ecosystems across the United States. Because of their reliance on the health of their habitat, manatees often act as a signal of their environment’s well-being. NOAA photo by Michael Buchanan.
Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
You may file an EEO Complaint if you believe you may have been discriminated against on one or more of the following "bases": race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, and/or sexual orientation or reprisal for participation in prior EEO activity. The general procedures are outlined below, as are procedures for complaints regarding sexual orientation.
WHO CAN FILE? An employee, former employee, or an applicant for employment with DOI who meets the threshold above may file an EEO Complaint. However, visitors, employees and clients of organizations outside DOI which receive Federal funding from DOI should go through the Civil Rights program.
FIRST, SEE A COUNSELOR. You must discuss the alleged discriminatory matter with an EEO Counselor within 45 days of the date of the incident that gave rise to your complaint. You may wish to pursue an informal solution through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process. The EEO Counselor will discuss this option with you.
HOW TO FILE:
Informal: If the attempts to informally resolve your complaint by the EEO Counselor have been unsuccessful, you will be provided, in writing, with a notice of final interview (NOFI) and your right to file a formal complaint of discrimination against the agency.
Formal: You have 15 calendar days from the date of receipt of the NOFI to submit your formal complaint in writing to your Bureau EO Officer, Bureau Director, the Secretary of the Interior, or the OS, Director, Office for Equal Opportunity (OEO).
INVESTIGATION: The Bureau or Office has 180 calendar days from the date you filed your complaint to complete the investigation and provide you with the Report of Investigation (ROI). Sometimes, extension of the 180 days may be necessary to complete the investigation. You have 30 days from receipt of the ROI to select one of the courses of action described in the "election" notice. If your complaint involves a matter appealable to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), you will be issued a decision on the merits of your case, without a hearing, by the Director, OEO.
HEARING: If you request a hearing before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you will be allowed to present witnesses and evidence on your behalf to an Administrative Judge. The Administrative Judge will issue a decision on your complaint that will be subject to a final order by the Director, OEO.
FINAL AGENCY DECISION (FAD) or Final Order: The OEO will issue a final decision on your complaint within 60 calendar days from the date of your receipt of the EEOC Administrative Judge's decision, or within 60 days after receipt of your notice of election for a final decision on the merits.
APPEAL: You may appeal the decision of the Director, OEO to the EEOC within 30 calendar days of your receipt of the final agency decision or final order.
CIVIL ACTION: In lieu of an appeal with the EEOC, you may, within 90 calendar days of the date of your receipt of the final decision or final order, file a civil action in an appropriate United States District Court. Also, you may file a civil action 180 calendar days after you filed your individual complaint if a final decision has not been issued and you have not appealed to EEOC.
COMPENSATORY DAMAGES: If there is a finding of discrimination, in certain cases, you may be entitled to compensatory damages.
SPECIAL CASES: Cases regarding age, sexual orientation, mixed cases (appealable to the MSPB), negotiated grievances, and class complaints are handled somewhat differently. See your Bureau EO Officer.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT: For more information regarding sexual harassment see EOD-2001-01, and EOD-2001-17.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION ISSUES: Cases regarding sexual orientation fall under the policy in EOD 99-03 and follow the procedures described in EOD 99-04 and 373 DM 7.
The newly revised EEO complaint process for federal employees and applicants for employment is governed by regulations issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at 29 C.F.R. § 1614.
DOI Equal Opportunity procedures for processing complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation are found at 373 DM 7.
EEO Plus (Partners Listening, Understanding, and Solving). Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program for use by all Office of the Secretary employees.