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Civil Rights

The Office of Civil Rights serves over 30,000 employees, applicants, and former employees across all fifty states and Puerto Rico. We are committed to developing and maintaining a work environment inclusive of all employees. The Office of Civil Rights supports solid public and employee trust by delivering prompt, accurate, and effective services. Our service efforts are the foundation for improving connections to present and future generations.

The Office of Civil Rights encourages diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and respect in compliance with all statutes, regulations, and directives that govern the Office of Civil Rights. We strive to resolve all disputes at the earliest possible stage, correcting discriminatory actions or inactions that inhibit the positive progression and promotion of civil rights. The Office of Civil Rights provides training and targeted outreach to the most diverse and qualified talent sources available.

Civil Rights Program Areas

Accountability and Compliance

The Accountability and Compliance Directorate is responsible for all informal and formal Equal Employment Opportunity complaints processing, as well as program discrimination complaints. The Directorate manages the Resolving Official and EEO Alternative Dispute Resolution programs and oversees the completion of Management Directive 715, the Notification and Federal Employee Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Form 462 reports and provides advice and guidance for Civil Rights Impact Analyses and the Limited English Proficiency program.

Accountability and Compliance ensures all reporting requirements under Title VI and Title VII are analyzed to identify barriers facing the agency and explore data in meaningful ways to define; set clear, measurable priorities; and interpret results that move toward reflecting a model organization. Through national reporting, civil rights impact analysis, and compliance reviews, the Directorate utilizes these tools as proactive prevention measures. The Directorate also highlights the agency’s civil rights accomplishments and operational successes and facilitates the submission of regulatory reporting to agency leadership and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

We ensure that the agency has conducted an in-depth analysis of any potential impact of its policies, practices and procedures based on race, color, national origin, age, sex, disability, and marital or familial status. For more information, please call (202) 205-1233.

Architectural Barriers Act of 1968

The Architectural Barriers Act requires that buildings or facilities that were designed, built, or altered with federal dollars or leased by federal agencies after August 12, 1968, be accessible. The U.S. Access Board is the federal agency responsible for enforcing the ABA.

ABA Accessibility Standards

File an Architectural Barriers Act complaint.

Affirmative Action Plan for the Recruitment, Hiring, Advancement, and Retention of Persons with Disabilities

To capture an agency’s Affirmative Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities and Persons with Targeted Disabilities, EEOC regulations 29 C.F.R. § 1614.203(e) and Management Directive 715 require agencies to describe how their APAAP will improve the recruitment, hiring, advancement, and retention of applicants and employees with disabilities.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility unit collaborates with external diversity organizations and agency employee development staff to design and deliver diversity, equity, and inclusion awareness education and training. The team partners with Forest Service stakeholders to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion are considered and embedded in employee recruitment, hiring, performance management, retention, development, and other aspects of workforce management.

Additionally, this unit engages recognized employee organizations and diversity-related councils and committees at the Regional and Forest levels, including Civil Rights Action Teams and Multicultural Advisory Committees. We serve as consultants to these groups and provide guidance, information, and resources for Special Emphasis Programs focused on improving employment and advancement opportunities for minorities, women, veterans, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community in the Federal service.

Special Emphasis Programs are essential to Civil Rights' diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility efforts in the Forest Service. Each SEP focuses on a specific group mandated by laws, regulations, and Executive Orders. These programs provide guidance, oversight, employee training and outreach to our partners and customers.

National Special Emphasis Program Managers

Equal Opportunity Program

The Equal Opportunity Program provides nondiscriminatory programs and services to the public. The Forest Service has two types of EO Programs: federally conducted and federally assisted.

Conducted programs include program services, benefits or resources delivered directly to the public by Forest Service employees.

Assisted programs include program services, benefits, or resources delivered indirectly to the public by recipients of federal financial assistance. Assistance includes, but is not limited to recreation special use permits, domestic grants, and cooperative agreements.

For more information, contact National EO Specialists Diedre Smith, or Nancy Foster,

Limited English Proficiency Program

Under the Equal Opportunity Program, the Limited English Proficiency program seeks to reduce or eliminate barriers to access Forest Service programs and services. Our goal is for everyone to enjoy these opportunities in a manner free from discrimination, specifically based on national origin. Forest Service LEP policy follows guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice, Title VI, and USDA to ensure that reasonable steps are taken to provide persons with LEP the necessary language assistance, including translation services, free of charge, for meaningful access to conducted and assisted Forest Service programs and services.

Submit inquiries to


The Management Directive 715 report is the standard federal agency civil rights “report card” the Forest Service prepares annually for submission to the EEOC. The Forest Service’s MD-715 report highlights our past year’s civil rights accomplishments towards establishing, maintaining, and sustaining effective diverse equal employment opportunity programs, plus plans to correct and sustain existing programs and build new opportunities in the coming year.

This federal agency reporting requirement was established pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, serving as both the “master plan” and “evaluation guide” for federal employee EEO programs.

No FEAR Act Notice

On May 15, 2002, Congress enacted the “Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002,” which is now known as the No FEAR Act. One purpose of the Act is to “require that Federal agencies be accountable for violations of antidiscrimination and whistleblower protection laws.” Public Law 107-174, Summary. In support of this purpose, Congress found that “agencies cannot be run effectively if those agencies practice or tolerate discrimination.” Public Law 107-174, Title I, General Provisions, section 101(1).

The Act also requires this agency to provide this notice to Federal employees, former Federal employees, and applicants for Federal employment to inform you of the rights and protections available to you under Federal antidiscrimination and whistleblower protection laws.

Antidiscrimination Laws

A Federal agency cannot discriminate against an employee or applicant with respect to the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status or political affiliation. Discrimination on these bases is prohibited by one or more of the following statutes: 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(1), 29 U.S.C. 206(d), 29 U.S.C. 631, 29 U.S.C. 633a, 29 U.S.C. 791 and 42 U.S.C. 2000e-16.

If you believe that you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin or disability, you must contact an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Pre-Complaints Counselor at 404-347-1908 within 45 calendar days of the alleged discriminatory action, or, in the case of a personnel action, within 45 calendar days of the effective date of the action, before you can file a formal complaint of discrimination with your agency. See, e.g., 29 CFR 1614. If you believe that you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination on the basis of age, you must either contact an EEO counselor as noted above or give notice of intent to sue to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 calendar days of the alleged discriminatory action. If you are alleging discrimination based on marital status or political affiliation, you may file a written complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) (see contact information below). In the alternative (or in some cases, in addition), you may pursue a discrimination complaint by filing a grievance through your agency's administrative or negotiated grievance procedures, if such procedures apply and are available.

Whistleblower Protection Laws

A Federal employee with authority to take, direct others to take, recommend or approve any personnel action must not use that authority to take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take, a personnel action against an employee or applicant because of disclosure of information by that individual that is reasonably believed to evidence violations of law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, unless disclosure of such information is specifically prohibited by law and such information is specifically required by Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs. Retaliation against an employee or applicant for making a protected disclosure is prohibited by 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(8). If you believe that you have been the victim of whistleblower retaliation, you may file a written complaint (Form OSC-11) with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel at 1730 M Street NW., Suite 218, Washington, DC 20036-4505, or online through the OSC Website.

Retaliation for Engaging in Protected Activity

A Federal agency cannot retaliate against an employee or applicant because that individual exercises his or her rights under any of the Federal antidiscrimination or whistleblower protection laws listed above. If you believe that you are the victim of retaliation for engaging in protected activity, you must follow, as appropriate, the procedures described in the Antidiscrimination Laws and Whistleblower Protection Laws sections above (including, if applicable, administrative or negotiated grievance procedures) in order to pursue any legal remedy.

Disciplinary Actions

Under the existing laws, each agency retains the right, where appropriate, to discipline a federal employee for conduct that is inconsistent with Federal antidiscrimination and whistleblower protection laws, up to and including removal. If OSC has initiated an investigation under 5 U.S.C. 1214, however, according to 5 U.S.C. 1214(f), agencies must seek approval from the Special Counsel to discipline employees for, among other activities, engaging in prohibited retaliation. Nothing in the No FEAR Act alters existing laws or permits an agency to take unfounded disciplinary action against a federal employee or to violate the procedural rights of a federal employee who has been accused of discrimination.

Additional Information

For further information regarding the No FEAR Act regulations, refer to 5 CFR part 724, as well as the appropriate offices within your agency (e.g., EEO/civil rights office, human resources office, or legal office). Additional information regarding Federal antidiscrimination, whistleblower protection and retaliation laws can be found at the EEOC Website, and the OSC Website.

Existing Rights Unchanged

Pursuant to section 205 of the No FEAR Act, neither the Act nor this notice creates, expands or reduces any rights otherwise available to any employee, former employee or applicant under the laws of the United States, including the provisions of law specified in 5 U.S.C. 2302(d). 

No FEAR Act Quarterly Reports

No FEAR Act Annual Reports

Notice to Employees – Appeal/EEOC No. (Posted 0/0/0000)

Notices will be published for one year. The EEOC determines whether an appellate decision should be published. If the decision is published, it will be indicated above.

To find a published decision, visit EEOC’s Federal Sector Appellate Decisions website and enter the appropriate appellate number. If the EEOC determines that a decision will remain unpublished, the Forest Service can provide no further information.

Reasonable Accommodations and Personal Assistance Services

A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done, including during the hiring process, to enable an individual with a disability to have an equal opportunity not only to obtain a job but also to successfully perform their job duties to the same extent as people without disabilities.

Title VII - Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint Program

The Equal Employment Opportunity complaint program aims to ensure federal employees, former employees, contracted employees, and applicants for employment are protected from discrimination under various EEO federal laws. The Office of Civil Rights offers mediation to resolve EEO disputes at the earliest possible stage. Unsuccessful mediations are counseled through our pre-complaint process.

EEO discrimination is prohibited under the following laws:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—race, color, national origin, religion, and sex, including sexual harassment, pregnancy, and LGBTQI+ issues
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973—mental and physical disabilities
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act—40 years of age or older
  • Equal Pay Act—gender-based pay inequity
  • Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act—genetic information/history
  • Reprisal—retaliation for engagement and/or opposition to EEO activity
  • Marital status, political affiliation, parental status, and financial status are covered by federal regulation.

The regulations promote fairness in the workplace, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring, firing, training, promoting, compensating, and retaining employees. For more information or to speak with an EEO counselor, please call the Informal Complaints Management Office, (404) 347-1908.