Located 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa is the most remote unit of the National Park System and the U.S. National Park south of the Equator. The Park spreads across three islands, 9,500 acres of tropical rainforest, and 4,000 acres of ocean, including coral reefs. While remote, the islands of American Samoa, true to the meaning of the word Samoa (Islands of Sacred Earth), are welcoming and offer beautiful landscapes and centuries of culture and history.
Seasoned backpacker and adventurer Yang Lu earned the grand prize in the 2015 Share the Experience photo contest with this image of a sunburst captured at sunrise in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah. Yang has made the outdoors part of his daily life and finds deep connection to the land through his lens.
“My photography is not just for recreation, it is to inspire people to explore these areas." -- Yang Lu
Photo by Yang Lu (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
The pre-complaint counseling period is 30 calendar days. You may agree to an extension of the pre-complaint counseling, not to exceed 60 calendar days. At the end of the pre-complaint period, you will be issued the Notice of Final Interview and Right to File a Discrimination Complaint (NOFI) within 15 calendar days of receipt of the NOFI.
You have the right to remain anonymous during the pre-complaint counseling stage if you wish. However, the matters you bring to the attention of the EEO Counselor may be more readily resolved if you permit the use of your name during the pre-complaint counseling.
You have the right to be represented by a person of your choice at any time during the complaint process, including the pre-complaint counseling stage. If you obtain representation, during the counseling phase, you must advise the EEO Counselor. If you obtain a representative during the formal process, you must notify the appropriate EEO Office, in writing, of the name and address of your representative, immediately upon obtaining the representative. Failure to do so may result in loss of attorney's fees to which you may otherwise be entitled.
The primary purpose of the pre-complaint counseling is to seek a solution to the matters which you brought to the EEO Counselor's attention. The EEO Counselor is not your advocate in this endeavor, nor is the Counselor an advocate for the Department. The Counselor acts strictly as a neutral in the EEO process and will make necessary inquiries into the matters raised and attempt to resolve the issues.
If the agency agrees to offer Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) in your case, you have the right to choose between the ADR and the EEO Counseling process.
If you are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that permits claims of discrimination to be raised in a negotiated grievance procedure, you must elect to file either an EEO complaint or a negotiated grievance. 5 U.S.C.§7121(d).
If your claim involves a matter that is also appealable to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), your claim is a mixed-case. You may elect to appeal your claim to the MSPB or you may file a formal EEO complaint, but not both.
Once the pre-complaint counseling stage is completed, you will receive the NOFI from the EEO Counselor. You will have 15 calendar days from receipt of the NOFI to file your formal EEO complaint with the appropriate EEO Office.
If you believe that you have been subjected to unlawful age discrimination (over 40) pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), you may go directly to court without going through the administrative complaint process after giving the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) not less than 30 days notice of the intent to file such an action. If you choose to pursue allegations of age discrimination administratively, you must first exhaust administrative procedures, including appeals to the EEOC or MSPB, before filing a civil action in U.S. District Court. As with Title VII complaints, administrative remedies are exhausted 180 days after filing a formal complaint if the agency has not taken action or you have not filed an appeal, 180 days after final action has been taken, or 180 days after filing an appeal with the EEOC if the EEOC has not issued a decision.
In you are filing a claim of sex-based wage discrimination under the Equal Pay Act, you have the right to go directly to court of competent jurisdiction. Sex-based claims of wage discrimination may also be raised under Title VII in the agency EEO complaint process. Individuals so aggrieved may claim violations of both statutes simultaneously.
You must keep the agency and the EEOC informed of your current mailing address and you must serve copies of any appeal papers on the agency.
You are entitled to a reasonable amount of official time to present your complaint pursuant to 29 C.F.R. §1614.605(b). In order to receive official time, you must make the request to your supervisor. In order to be eligible to receive official time, you must be in an active duty status with the agency.
If you select counseling, you will receive the NOFI within 30 calendar days of the first counseling contact (unless you agree in writing to an extension). The NOFI terminates counseling and informs you of (a) the right to file a formal individual or class complaint within 15 calendar days of receipt of the NOFI; (b) the appropriate official with whom to file a formal complaint; and (c) your duty to immediately inform the agency if you retain counsel or a representative. Any extension of the counseling period may not exceed an additional 60 calendar days.
If you agree to participate in an established ADR process to address the issues of your complaint, your counseling period may be extended up to 90 calendar days. If the ADR process is successful, then the terms of the agreement will be written and signed by both you and a management official with authority to resolve the complaint. If the ADR process is not successful, the EEO Counselor will be notified and will issue you the NOFI upon completion of the ADR process or within 90 calendar days of the first contact with the EEO Counselor, whichever is earlier. Thereafter, you will have the right to file a formal complaint within 15 days of receipt of the NOFI.
You may file a formal complaint only on those matters which you specifically brought to the attention of the EEO Counselor during the 30-days of pre-complaint counseling. You may be able to amend your complaint with issues that are like or related to the matters brought to the Counselor's attention by notifying the EEO Officer (or if your complaint is at the hearing stage, with the EEOC Administrative Judge) in writing.
The EEO office will issue you the completed Report of Investigation (ROI). Upon receipt of the ROI, or after 180 calendar days from the filing of your formal complaint, you may elect a hearing before an EEOC Administrative Judge or a final decision without a hearing. If you request a hearing, it will be conducted by an Administrative Judge from the EEOC in accordance with 29 C.F.R. 1614.109. Your written request for a hearing must be made to the appropriate EEOC Field Office within 30 calendar days of your receipt of the ROI. You will be informed of the appropriate EEOC Field Office to request your hearing. The address of the appropriate EEOC Field Office will be provided to you when you file your formal complaint. If you elect a hearing, you must certify to the EEOC Administrative Judge that you have notified the EEO office of such request. If you make no request for a hearing, you will receive a final decision from the Director, Office for Equal Opportunity, Office of the Secretary, 60 calendar days after the date you should have made your request for a hearing.
If your formal complaint is accepted for processing, the acceptance letter will specifically state your claims of discrimination, and provide specific information regarding the processing of your complaint. Your complaint will be investigated within 180 days but may be extended 90 days with your permission. Otherwise, the agency must issue the ROI to you no later than 180-days after you've filed your complaint. [29 C.F.R. 1614.108(f)]
If you file two or more complaints, the agency must consolidate them after providing you notice. When a complaint has been consolidated with one or more earlier complaints, the investigation must be completed within the earlier 180 days after the filing of the last complaint or 360 days of the filing of the first complaint. You may request a hearing before an EEOC Administrative Judge at any time after 180 days of the filing of the first complaint.
If you elect a decision without a hearing, you will receive a final decision within 60 calendar days of the Director, Office for Equal Opportunity's receipt of your election.
Upon notification of your election of a hearing the EEO Office will transmit the complaint files to the EEOC Administrative Judge with a copy to the Agency Representative from the Office of the Solicitor.
You must mitigate damages. For example, if you have been terminated from employment, you must lessen the damages by making a reasonable, good faith effort to find other employment. Any interim earnings or amounts that you earned must be deducted from an award of back pay.
I have been informed of the employee's/applicant's rights by the EEO Counselor.