City & County of Honolulu
Equal Opportunity/ Discrimination Complaints
Table of Contents
I. Introduction and Background Information…….3
Administration of the Complaint Program
Use of the Procedure
II. Filing Information…………………..………..3
Who may file?
Where to file?
When to file?
How to file?
What information is required to file?
Why should I use the internal complaint procedure?
III. Internal Complaint Processing………………4
The Fact Finding Investigation
Post Investigation Activities
IV. Related Procedures and Issues……………..8
Consolidation of Complaints
Copies of Reports
Extensions of Time
Filing an External Complaint
Report Storage and Retention
Withdrawal of Complaint
I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND INFORMATION
This guide is designed to provide general information about the EEO Complaint process in the City & County of Honolulu.
Administration of the Complaint Program
The complaint procedure is administered by the City's Equal Opportunity Officer. In addition, each City department has a designated EEO Coordinator who also assists in the implementation of the city-wide program. Complaint guidelines are found in the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu (ROH) Article 1-17.
Any employee or applicant for employment may use the complaint procedure. Complainants must allege discrimination, harassment based on discrimination or retaliation for protected activity.
II. FILING INFORMATION
A. Complaints may be filed by any employee or applicant who believes s/he has experienced discrimination, harassment based on discrimination, or retaliation in violation of a state, local or federal EEO law, ordinance or policy.
B. A complaint may also be filed on the complainant's behalf by a supervisory or management official.
A. Complaints may be filed with the employee's department by contacting a supervisor, manager, or designated EEO Coordinator.
B. Complaints may also be filed with the City's Equal Opportunity Office.
A complaint of discrimination can be filed at anytime, however, it is highly recommended that the complaint be brought as soon as possible after the alleged discriminatory act has occurred.
A. All complaints shall be in writing and submitted on the City's EEO Complaint Form.
B. Assistance in preparing the complaint form is available by contacting the department's Administrative Services Officer, Department Personnel Officer or by contacting the City's Equal Opportunity Officer.
A. Complaints must contain the name of the complainant and appropriate contact information.
B. Accused will be named specifically, if known, and appropriate contact information will be noted.
C. A succinct, concise, clear statement of the alleged discriminatory act(s) should be provided.
D. Date, time, location, duration of alleged discriminatory act(s) will be noted.
E. Names and contact information of possible witnesses to the alleged discriminatory act and persons who may have knowledge of the alleged discrimination are also requested to assist in planning for the investigation, if applicable.
F. The complaint will be signed by the filing party.
Resolving disputes in an equitable and timely manner and at the lowest supervisory level possible is beneficial to all. Thus, individuals are encouraged to use the internal complaint procedure to attempt the resolution of problems, prevent the escalation of serious concerns and promote a healthy workplace.
III. INTERNAL COMPLAINT PROCESSING
Once a complaint is filed, an intake review is completed and if accepted, the complaint will assigned for investigation.
A. All complaints are reviewed by the department EEO Coordinator or the City Equal Opportunity Officer (whom ever receives the complaint) and a determination is made as to whether or not the complainant alleges a colorable claim of discrimination over which the Equal Opportunity Program has jurisdiction.
B. The complainant may be contacted during the intake review to discuss the incident and the complaint procedure. If not already provided, the complainant will be asked to submit a written statement of the allegations and provide other documentation and/or information needed to substantiate his or her complaint, such as protected status under Equal Employment Opportunity policies or medical proof of disability with a signed medical release form.
C. Based on review of the complainant's statement/documentation, the reviewer determines, whether the complaint will be accepted or dismissed.
D. An intake review sheet will be prepared to document complaint reviews. Reasons for dismissal at this stage can include the following:
· complainant fails to bring a colorable claim of discrimination
· complainant is not the aggrieved
· the Equal Opportunity Office has no jurisdiction in the matter
· complainant fails to fully cooperate and continuing the process cannot take place effectively without said cooperation.
E. The complainant will be notified in writing of the acceptance or dismissal of the complaint. Dismissal notices will identify reason for dismissal determination.
F. Accepted complaints are assigned for investigation. The complainant will receive an acceptance notice outlining the specific issues being referred to investigation.
Once assigned, the investigator's role in the process includes reviewing, fact-finding and when practicable, resolving the complaint.
At this stage, the Investigator may request more information to verify facts and allegations, such as medical documentation, proof of protected status under Equal Employment Opportunity policies or proof of disability at any time during the investigation The Investigative process is expected to be completed within 10 work days of receipt of the complaint, unless with proper justification, the time is extended by the City's Equal Opportunity Officer.
A. The investigator reviews the complainant's statement and intake review sheet to obtain background information about the allegation(s).
B. An Investigation Plan, including a timeline, is prepared.
· verification of issues and bases
· research applicable laws, rules, regulations
· potential witness list
· evidence to be secured
· preliminary list of questions for complainant, accused, witnesses
In order to conduct a full an fair investigation, the investigator will conduct interviews and gather evidence necessary. The following are included in the possible actions of the investigator, however, not all may be applicable in every case:
A. Complainant Statement
The Investigator contacts the complainant, explains the process, gives an estimated time frame for review and fact finding, and verifies the issues and desired outcomes. The complainant is provided a statement of the issues to be addressed by the investigation, a notice of rights and responsibilities, and copies of any applicable city policies or procedures. The complainant is interviewed about the allegations made.
B. Accused/Respondent Statement
The investigator contacts the accused, explains the process, gives an estimated time frame for review and fact finding, and verifies the issues of the allegation. The accused is provided a written statement of the specific issues of the complaint, a notice of rights and responsibilities and copies of any applicable city policies or procedures. The investigator interviews, and obtains a written/signed statement addressing responses from the respondent(s) to the allegations made.
C. Witness Statements
The investigator contacts potential witnesses, who may have knowledge of the situation, or whose statement may be relevant to the complaint, explains the process, and describes the issues under investigation. The witness is provided with a notice of rights and responsibilities and copies of any applicable city policies or procedures.
D. Evidence Gathering
The investigator may review personnel files, training records, documentary evidence, other relevant items, as applicable to the specific allegations.
E. Follow up interviews
The investigator may review the responses of the accused with the complainant and similarly the rebuttals of the complainant with the accused. The complainant is provided an opportunity to respond to, refute, and/or provide evidence that the responses provided by the accused are pretextual. The investigator may re-interview appropriate parties depending on the circumstances of the case. At each interview, the interviewee should be provided with the purpose of the meeting and the applicable notice of rights and responsibilities.
F. Attempts at Resolution
If applicable, the investigator may attempt to discuss resolution of the complaint with the complainant and appropriate management officials.
G. Preliminary Findings
The investigator will review with the complainant and the accused the preliminary findings and conclusions of the investigation. The investigator will also review with the complainant the process steps to closure of the investigation and expected time frames for final disposition.
Both parties are able at any time during the investigation to provide written statements of additional facts or arguments specifically addressing their position.
Report of Investigation
At the close of the investigation a report of the findings is prepared. The report will cover the issues raised, findings of the investigation, applicable analysis, conclusions and recommendations.
The Final decision as to the disposition of the report of investigation rests with the appropriate director/appointing authority. All reports and final decisions of corrective/disciplinary action are to be reviewed by the City Equal Opportunity Officer before the action is taken.
The complainant and accused will be notified of the determination made relative to the complaint.
IV. RELATED PROCEDURES AND ISSUES
Complainants may appeal determinations of their EEO Complaints to the Civil Service Commission within 20 days of the date notice of disposition is received. Further, complaints may be filed externally to the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
All information obtained through this complaint process is handled confidentially as possible, however, complete confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. Every effort will be made to protect the confidentiality of the parties to the extent possible during the processing of complaints under this procedure. Documentation resulting from the complaint procedure will be maintained as outlined in Revised Ordinances of Honolulu Article 1-17.
Access to documents or any other information related to an individual's complaint is permitted to those with a need-to-know or as allowed by the city ordinance or other applicable statute.
If the complainant brings more than one related complaint or more than one complaint is received alleging substantially similar issues, the City Equal Opportunity Officer may authorize the consolidation of cases if it is deemed expedient to the processing of the complaints and will not unnecessarily delay the investigative process.
Complainants and accused are entitled to inspect the report of investigation once the final determination in response to the findings of the report is made. Copies will be provided upon request as required by law. Reports will be redacted appropriately before inspection or copying of reports.
An investigator may request an extension of time to complete processing a complaint. The approval of the City Equal Opportunity Officer is required for all extensions. Extension requests are approved when delays in processing the complaint and investigation occur. The complainant and accused are able to know the status of the investigation at any time during the process.
Filing an External Complaint
Although use of the internal procedure is encouraged, individuals also have the right to file complaints with appropriate external agencies. It should be noted, however, that those agencies have time limits for bringing charges. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - 300 days and Hawaii Civil Rights Commission - 180 days. The time to file is not extended by the filing of an internal complaint with the city.
External agencies are:
Hawaii Civil Rights Commission (HCRC)
830 Punchbowl Street, Room 411
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone: (808) 586-8636
Filing limitation: within 180 calendar days of incident
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Prince Kuhio Federal Building
300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 7123-A
P.O. Box 50082
Honolulu, Hawaii 96850
Phone: (808) 541-3120
Filing limitation: within 300 calendar days of incident
*Note the EEOC and HCRC have a work sharing agreement which allows the complainant to dual file a charge with both agencies when making a complaint with one (provided jurisdictional issues are met).
All reports of investigation will be retained and stored in the complainants department. Records are kept in accordance with provisions found in ROH Article 1-17.
The complainant and respondent may be accompanied by a representative of their choice any time during the complaint and investigative process.
The representative's role is limited to support and consultation with the individual. Representatives are not participants in the complaint or investigation and as such may not respond to questions for the individual they represent. Should the representative wish to consult with the individual, the investigator should allow them to briefly recess the process in order to confer.
Representation is an individual choice and is obtained at the employee' own effort and expense, if applicable.
Retaliation against an individual who has opposed any practice that is prohibited by federal or state law or City policy or has made a complaint, testified, assisted or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under this procedure or procedures provided by state or federal law is strictly prohibited. A charge of retaliation constitutes a separate and distinct claim and can be sustained regardless of the outcome of the original complaint.
At any time during the processing the complainant may choose to withdraw the complaint. Withdrawals must be provided to the City Equal Opportunity Officer in writing. (Note: even a withdrawal by the complainant may not remove the employer's obligation to conduct a fact finding investigation and appropriate responsive action thereto.)