United States Department of the Interior

Office of the Secretary

Washington, D.C. 20240

December 12, 2002


To: Bureau Equal Opportunity Officers

From: E. Melodee Stith, Director, Office for Equal Opportunity

Subject: Settlement Agreements

All Settlement Agreements made in connection with EEO matters must be in writing. Effective immediately, Bureaus must use the approved Departmental standard language for Settlement Agreements as provided in the Handbook on Complaints Processing (Appendix 8, 373 DM 5). Additional guidance on settlement agreements can be found in Chapter 5.15 of the Handbook. Any deviation from the approved standard language contained in Appendix 8, must be approved by the Director, OEO, in conjunction with the Office of the Solicitor, prior to presentation to the Complainant, Counsel for the Complainant, Bureau Officials, and/or Union Representatives.

A Settlement Agreement cannot exceed relief that an aggrieved individual would otherwise receive in the U.S. District Court. You are reminded that any agreement for a monetary award exceeding $20,000 in back pay, interest, or damages, or $20,000 in attorney's fees or any combination of the two in excess of $40,000 must be approved by the Director, Office for Equal Opportunity, prior to agreement. Bureau's may seek advice from the Office of the Solicitor in negotiating settlement agreement, and all attorney's fees claims must be reviewed by the Office of the Solicitor prior to payment. Please keep in mind the statutory caps on compensatory damages when drafting Settlement Agreements.

Distribution: All Bureau/Office Equal Opportunity Officers

Inquiries: Mercedes Flores, Chief of Staff, Office for Equal Opportunity, (202) 208-6120

Expiration: When superseded