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Frequently asked questions

From 1778 to 1871, the United States’ relations with individual American Indian nations indigenous to what is now the U.S. were defined and conducted largely through the treaty-making process. These “contracts among nations” recognized and established unique sets of rights, benefits, and conditions for the treaty-making tribes who agreed to cede of millions of acres of their homelands to the United States and accept its protection.  Like other treaty obligations of the United States, Indian treaties are considered to be “the supreme law of the land,” and they are the foundation upon which federal Indian law and the federal Indian trust relationship is based.

A complaint of discrimination may be filed by an aggrieved applicant, employee, or former employee of the BIA/BIE. The aggrieved individual has the right to be represented at all stages of the process through either a union representative or a legal advisor.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against, it may be helpful to speak with your supervisor, administrative officer, or personnel representative to determine the structure of their actions. If you wish to utilize the EEO complaint process, it is important to bring the matter to the attention of an EEO Counselor within 45 calendar days of the occurrence of the alleged discriminatory act (or within 45 days of the date in which you discovered the action occurred). 

After your first contact with the BIA OEOCRP, an EEO Counselor will contact you for an initial interview to gather details regarding your complaint. During this interview, the EEO Counselor will explain your rights and responsibilities throughout the process, gather details regarding your claims and desired remed(ies), and answer general questions regarding the EEO process. 

The EEO Counselor will listen to your concerns and inform you of your rights responsibilities under the EEO complaint process. You may also be offered the opportunity to use a mediator from The Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution (CADR), the BIA’s alternative dispute resolution process. The EEO Counselor will ask you specific questions and make inquiry into the matter, with your permission, by discussing the problem with your supervisor, associates, or personnel representative. The EEO Counselor will attempt to resolve the problem informally while communicating with you the process steps and actions required.

Equal Employment Opportunity is the fair treatment of all people in employment, promotion, training, and other personnel actions regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sex (including gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual orientation), age, or disability (physical or mental). To make sure that all Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) employees and applicants for employment with the Bureau of Indian Affairs are provided this opportunity, certain laws and regulations were issued containing the legal basis for EEO programs in the BIA. If discrimination has been found in your workplace, EEO can provide a means to find a suitable remedy for those that may have been harmed.

The EEO Counselor cannot advise on whether you have a "good case" or on what action you should take regarding an issue. This is because EEO Counselors represent the EEO process and are required to remain neutral at all times. This also means that an EEO Counselor does not side with or represent management or the Agency. What the EEO Counselor can do is provide information about your options and answer general questions you may have about the EEO process to assist you in making an informed decision. 

If you do feel you need guidance or expert advice on the EEO process, you have the right to retain an attorney or representation at any time during the process (see Rights and Responsibilities for specific details and ask your EEO Counselor if you have further questions).

It is a claim of discrimination alleged on behalf of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sex (including gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual orientation), age, disability (physical or mental), or retaliation (when based on previous participation in the EEO process). The complaint may arise from a specific management action, such as employment, promotion, work assignment, selection for training, disciplinary action, or separation. It may also relate to prevailing conditions in an organization that make an employee uncomfortable or cause them to feel undue harassment.

An important part of the initial interview and possible follow-up interviews with the EEO Counselor is to ensure that each discriminatory event, or claim, contains the key elements necessary for the EEO Counselor to frame each claim.

For each event/claim, key elements include the specific discriminatory act or event that occurred, the associated EEO basis of discrimination, the employee or management official(s) responsible for the discriminatory act, and significant dates associated with the event. You will also be asked to provide remed(ies) that would restore you to the same position (or nearly the same) that you would have been if the discrimination had never occurred. Coming to the interview well prepared with this information will result in a more productive interview that will equip the EEO Counselor with the information necessary to more effectively assist you with the EEO process.

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