7 CFR 18.5 - Formal complaint procedure.
A procedure shall be provided for the filing of a formal written complaint if a complainant is not satisfied with the result of informal procedure or if the complainant does not desire to follow the informal procedure. A complaint procedure shall contain the following minimum provisions for the processing of formal complaints.
(a) Elements of the formal complaint. The formal complaint shall be in writing and state the name and address of the complainant; the basis of the claim; and indicate whether the alleged discrimination was based on race, color, national origin, sex, or religion.
(b) Time limits for processing. The procedure will include time limits for the orderly processing of complaints.
(c) Who may file. A complaint may be filed by an employee, a former employee, or an applicant for employment who believes that discrimination in employment has been practiced against him or that an employment practice in the Cooperative Extension Service has or will result in discrimination in employment against him. An employee, a former employee, or an applicant for employment, or an organization may file a complaint of general discriminatory practices: Provided, however, That upon request of the President, the complainant shall furnish to him names of individuals who are adversely affected by those practices.
(d) Right of representation. A complainant may designate in writing, an individual or an organization to represent him in the processing of his complaint, and is entitled to the advice of counsel at his expense at all stages of the proceeding. If the representative designated by the complainant is an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or of a Cooperative Extension Service, such employee, as well as an employee-complainant, shall have a reasonable amount of official time with pay, if he is in a pay status, for the purpose of appearing at any hearing on the complaint or conciliation effort. The rights and privileges set forth in this paragraph shall also be available to any person whose alleged conduct is the cause of the complaint.
(e) Where filed. The procedure shall clearly state the persons, and their locations, with whom complaints may be filed. It shall also state that complaints may be filed with the Secretary. Complaints filed with the Secretary shall be promptly forwarded to the President or his designee for processing.
(f) When filed. A complaint shall be submitted within 90 days of the conduct giving rise to the complaint. The President may extend the prescribed time limit for good cause shown by the complainant.
(g) Hearing. A complainant or the President may request a hearing which shall be transcribed or recorded. The hearing shall be conducted promptly during regular working hours in the county where the alleged discrimination occurred or at a time and place agreed to by the President and the complainant. The President, the complainant and any person whose alleged conduct is the cause of the complaint shall have the right to call and cross-examine witnesses under oath. The hearing shall be provided by the President, and shall be conducted by an impartial board or hearing officer who shall promptly submit a proposed decision including findings of fact, conclusions, and recommendations for action to the President.
(h) Decision by the President. The President shall review the entire file on the complaint, including the record of the hearing if a hearing was held, and shall promptly:
(1) Remand to the hearing board or officer for further action; or
(2) Make a decision on the complaint; or
(3) Otherwise dispose of the complaint.