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Frequently Asked Questions About Civil Rights

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What is discrimination?

Discrimination is unfair treatment or denial of privileges because of an individual's membership in a protected group.

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What is retaliation?

Retaliation, also referred to as reprisal, is the taking of any adverse action against an individual because of his or her prior participation in the EEO process or opposition to discriminatory practices.

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What is sexual harassment?

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly and affects a term, condition, or privilege of employment; (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis of employment decisions affecting such individual; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

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What are my obligations if I am contacted by an EEO counselor or investigator?

The NRC and EEO regulations require that all employees fully cooperate during the complaint process. Lack of cooperation may result in disciplinary action.

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Can I be held personally liable if I am found to have discriminated against an employee?

A manager will not be held individually liable in an administrative complaint. However, a complainant may bring a civil action, and a manager could be held liable.

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What is "reasonable accommodation" for a disabled employee?

Reasonable accommodations are adjustments or modifications to job application procedures, a job, employment practices, or a work environment that enable a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. They are intended to enable qualified disabled individuals to perform the essential functions of a position and designed to remove physical and procedural workplace or employment barriers.

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What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is any method used to resolve issues in controversy, including but not limited to conciliation, facilitation, mediation, fact finding, mini trials, arbitration, and the use of ombudsmen, or any combination thereof.

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What is mediation?

Mediation is an Alternative Dispute Resolution process in which disputing parties meet and a neutral, impartial third party (mediator) facilitates discussions to assist the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution of their dispute. Mediation is voluntary, informal, and confidential.

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Is participation in mediation voluntary?

Mediation is voluntary and may be terminated at any time by either party. In the event that mediation is terminated, the aggrieved person may continue to pursue an informal or formal resolution of the matter through the Agency's Discrimination Complaint Process.

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Does participation in mediation result in the processing of my complaint being delayed, i.e., are statutory deadlines waived as a result of my participation in mediation?

No statutory deadlines are waived, and all statutory deadlines must be adhered to in accordance with EEOC regulations at 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Section 1614.

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Do I have the right to representation during mediation?

The parties have a right to representation by an attorney or non-attorney to consult with or assist them at any stage in the mediation process, and each party is responsible for taking steps to obtain such a person.

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Does participation in the mediation process imply guilt or wrongdoing?

Participation in the mediation process, even when a resolution occurs, does not imply guilt or wrongdoing. Mediation is an informal process used to assist the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution of their dispute at the earliest possible opportunity.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, May 31, 2013