EEO Frequently Asked Questions
Filing a discrimination complaint is not an easy thing to do. Frequently Asked Questions from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office often address the very real and understandable fears of individuals who want to file a discrimination complaint. We have chosen to share the questions and responses with all employees to further encourage staff to raise their EEO concerns.
EEO Frequently Asked Questions:
- Is there a specific form I need to fill out to file discrimination complaint?
- Once I make the complaint, how can I be assured it will not be ignored?
- How can I be assured I will not suffer retaliation for coming forward?
- How will I find out the outcome of the complaint?
- What disciplinary actions will be taken?
- Will the complaint actually be investigated?
- How long does an investigation take?
- How will I have closure and know the outcome of the complaint?
- What if there is another occurrence of discrimination by the same individual after the initial complaint and the harassment does not stop?
- Others have reported discrimination by the same individual. What happens to previous complaints and investigations against the same individual?
- How long are complaints kept on file?
- How do I know my complaint won't be "swept under the carpet?
- What is the procedure for going outside the department to report a complaint; will I receive adverse treatment for doing so?
Frequently Asked Questions
A-There is no specific required form for filing a discrimination complaint. However, it is better to use the DMV Discrimination Complaint form because you will be sure to provide some of the necessary information. Prior to filing a complaint you can try to resolve the matter informally by discussing the matter with any EEO Counselor, your local supervisor, or your manager. I also encourage you to utilize the California State Personnel Board's State Mediation Program. The "Gatekeeper" for the Mediation Program in DMV is in the DMV EEO Office. You can obtain information on this program with this link: DMV Mediation Program. However, you are not discouraged from using any of the alternatives available to you to file an internal or external discrimination complaint.
A-Your complaint will not be ignored. Formal discrimination complaints filed within the DMV EEO Office arrive directly at my office. Complaints filed with external agencies follow a very specific process to assure consideration of your person who files a complaint. Employers are required to act when we "know or should have known" discrimination has occurred. Employers should not wait until we have a complaint in hand.
A-No one can provide absolute assurances against retaliation for coming forward. There are nearly 10,000 people employed by DMV. It is not possible to oversee the actions of this many people such that I can guarantee that a claimant will not suffer any negative reactions. In reality, divisions among line staff often arise when discrimination complaints are filed. There is little we can do to prevent such reactions. However, we can guarantee that you will not suffer retaliation from the DMV management. DMV EEO Policies prohibiting retaliation against anyone for filing a discrimination complaint exceed State and Federal laws. If retaliation occurs and is substantiated, appropriate actions are taken. If you feel that you have suffered retaliation for filing a discrimination complaint, you can file another complaint or contact me for assistance, via this link DMV EEO Officer.
A-When the investigation is complete you will receive a closure letter from me. The DMV provides all employees with due process protections. These protections prohibit the DMV from providing details of the investigation findings to the complainants (those who file a discrimination complaint). Therefore, in most cases, you would only be informed if allegations of inappropriate behavior were substantiated and, in those cases, that appropriate action will be taken.
A-All State Departments are required to apply "progressive discipline." Adverse actions taken against employees are at times reduced when the action is appealed to the State Personnel Board. This means that we do not have unilateral authority to impose the severity of punishment that we might want. I can tell you that as a result of EEO investigations into allegations of discrimination or other inappropriate behavior, employees have received the full range of disciplinary actions. The more serious have included demotions or termination of employment (fired). We have also had employees resign while an investigation was in process. Unfortunately, since the DMV cannot divulge details, most employees may believe that nothing was done, and that the problems were "swept under the carpet."
A-When I receive sufficient information to meet due process requirements, a formal investigation is started on the complaint. However, we do not always wait until a complaint is filed. The DMV takes proactive steps. DMV managers can contact my office and request a management initiated EEO Investigation as soon as a potentially serious EEO issue comes to their attention.
A-We try to complete investigations in 180 days.
A-As noted above, due process protections prohibit the DMV from providing investigation details to the complainants (those who file a discrimination complaint). Resolution varies according to the specifics of each investigation. We close the processing of your complaint after we send you the closure letter. But our work does not end when the complaint is closed. We often work with the Division or the Legal Office on various follow-up actions. Those actions may include: helping you (the complainant), conducting training to prevent further occurrences, providing documents and tapes for the adverse action, testifying at SPB Appeals, or testifying in court.
A-Another substantiated occurrence of discrimination by the same individual will likely result in that individual receiving stronger disciplinary action up to and including termination.
A-"Priors" are an important consideration. DMV EEO investigations include research to determine if that person has been accused in prior complaints. This is especially important when the prior inappropriate behavior was substantiated. The review for "priors" includes any inappropriate behaviors, and is not restricted to EEO "priors". My office works closely with other DMV investigative units. If "priors" are found in those other areas, those "priors" will also weigh against the credibility of the employee again accused of discrimination.
A-Files are kept as long as there is litigation (a lawsuit) in process on that complaint. If there are no such reasons for retaining the file, the files are usually destroyed after 5 years.
A-It's unethical and illegal, to "sweep it under the carpet". Control agencies and courts respond to attempts at concealment with even greater penalties. Closer to home, any employee who is found to have assisted in "sweeping it under the carpet" may be subject to very severe adverse actions. This is especially the case for those employees in Peace Officer classifications.
A-You may file with any outside agency any time you wish. The primary agencies are the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the California State Personnel Board (SPB), and the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Please remember that you usually have one year from the latest occurrence of the alleged discrimination to file your complaint. I strongly recommend that you contact these agencies directly to be sure you are proceeding before your time runs out! See your local phone book for the nearest office of the DFEH, EEOC and SPB. You will not receive adverse treatment for going outside the department to report a complaint. In fact, our DMV EEO Policies provide information on how to contact external agencies.
The DMV EEO Counselors are here to help you. They can give you personalized assistance, answer specific questions, and provide you with the most current policies. Please contact me if there is any way that I can help.
Georgia Lee, EEO Officer