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Grievances and complaints

What do you do if you believe you are being treated unfairly by your manger? What is your course of action if you feel you are being harassed by a co-worker? What if you are dissatisfied with some other aspect of your employment or working conditions? 

As an employee, you have the right to file a grievance for relief. To do so, you should discuss your concern with your employee relations specialist in your servicing human resource office. They will be able to tell you which grievance procedure applies to your specific situation and they can also inform you on the procedures for filing a grievance. 

For more detailed information, you can also look at the Department’s Administrative Grievance Procedure. If you are a bargaining unit employee, you can check with your servicing human resources office on any negotiated agreements. 


What do you do if you have a complaint relating to a potential violation of law or regulation? You have the right to file a complaint. A complaint is usually more formal than a grievance and includes issues such as: 

  • Discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, handicap condition, veterans’ preference, martial status, or political affiliation; 
  • The classification of your position;
  • The incorrect payment of monies owed to you by the Department such as overtime, salary, etc.;
  • Workers’ compensation;
  • Denial of veterans’ preference when applying for a position;
  • Reduction-in-force (RIF);
  • Adverse action (suspension of more than 14 days or removal);
  • Performance based action; or
  • Alleged violations of the Federal Labor-Management Relations Statute or an unfair labor practice (ULP).

If you feel that you need to file a complaint, where you file is determined based on the nature of the complaint. For bargaining unit employee covered by a negotiated grievance procedure (NGP), the NGP is the exclusive administrative procedure for matters not specifically excluded from the scope of the NGP.

  • Discrimination - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC), the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the Department of Labor (VETS), or, the NGP (see you Servicing Human Resources Office (SHRO))
  • Classification – the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) (does not apply to employees covered by the Commerce Alternative Personnel System or the Alternative Personnel Management System)
  • Incorrect payment of monies owed to you by the Department – OPM, the Comptroller General (General Accountability Office – GAO), or the NGP (See your SHRO)
  • Denial of veterans’ preference – Department of Labor/ VETS, or the NGP
  • Reduction-in-force, Adverse Action, and performance Based Action – MSPB, or the NGP
  • ULP – the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), or the NGP (See you SHRO)

If you are an employee in a bargaining unit covered by a NGP, you may have a choice of using the statutory appeal procedure or the NGP. You should contact your SHRO for more information.