Filing a Complaint: EEO Technical Guidance

Individuals, or their representatives, may file a disability rights complaint with the NPS if they believe they have been discriminated against or denied access to any program, service, or activity conducted by NPS or by an NPS recipient of federal financial assistance.

How to File a Complaint

The complaint must be in writing, signed and dated, and filed no later than 180 days from the date of the alleged discrimination. The complaint should include:

  • their name, address, zip code, telephone number and email address;
  • the name and address of the alleged discriminatory official(s) and/or public entity;
  • the nature of the complaint; and
  • the date the alleged discrimination occurred.

The complaint should be sent to the Director, Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, National Park Service, 1849 C Street NW, Rm 2505, Washington, DC 20240.

Email the NPS Office of Equal Opportunity Programs with any questions.

Background on Complaints

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, prohibits discrimination based on disability in federally conducted programs of the Department of the Interior (DOI).

Section 504 provides for access to all programs, structural and non-structural. Non-structural programs relate to the provision of policies, procedures, and effective communication for program participants and employees with disabilities.

Access must be provided to all existing programs, structural and non-structural, unless it can be determined that it would be a direct threat, would alter the fundamental nature of the program or be an undue burden (significant difficulty or expense based on the resources of the entity). If one of these exceptions is demonstrated, the Agency must provide an alternative, effective method of access.

Complaint Process

The Section 504 process covers filing of complaint through complete resolution.

The complaint procedure is as follows:

  1. Incoming complaints are received directly from the complainant, Department of Justice, and the Department of Interior (DOI) Office of Civil Rights. The complainant has 180 days after the incident of alleged discrimination to file a complaint. Section 504 provides that the NPS attempt to achieve voluntary compliance.
  2. Complaints received by units of the NPS must be forwarded to the EEO Program Office within 14 days. The NPS EEO Program Office will begin the complaint investigation process resulting in an investigation report produced by the NPS EEO Specialist.
  3. The NPS EEO Specialist will establish a file that is a structured compilation and repository of all documents and information, within the agency’s possession, pertaining to the case. The investigation report will contain jurisdiction information, identification of the basis and issues, identification of the applicable legal theories, conclusions gathered from the analysis of the data or other evidence already gathered, description of the documentary, testimonial and statistical evidence, anticipated sequences of the case activities (including onsite visits if needed), anticipated timeframes for obtaining and analyzing evidence, and approach to complaint resolution.
  4. Within 5 days of receipt of a complaint, the EEO Program Office will provide an acknowledgement letter to the complainant.
  5. Within 45 days of the date of the receipt of the complaint, the EEO Program staff will review the complaint, communicate with the Park by telephone and/or electronic mail, and follow up with a written memorandum from the EEO Program Manager to the appropriate Regional Director noting the allegations, relevant requirements, and requesting a self-evaluation and transition plan. (See Attachment 2 for information concerning the self-evaluation and transition plan.) The memorandum will also request that steps be taken for resolution if the allegations are true and violate Section 504. For each new complaint received, the original self-evaluation and transition plan must be reviewed based on the current allegations.
  6. The Regional Director’s status response and the self-evaluation and transition plan will be reviewed by the EEO Program staff within 60 days and a decision closing the complaint will be provided if no violation exists. If a violation exists, EEO Program staff will request further information and/or provide further clarification and technical assistance regarding Section 504 requirements.
  7. The DOI regulations implementing Section 504 provides that within 180 days of receiving a complaint, EEO Program Staff will notify the complainant of the results of its investigation. After the 180 day period the EEO Program staff will continue to monitor, as necessary by phone, electronic mail, or written memorandum, steps taken by the unit to resolve any violations.
  8. EEO Program staff, based on its review and interactive communications with Regional staff and complainants, will establish timelines for resolutions. These timelines may be different for the various types of construction and non-structural actions necessary to achieve compliance. The goal for complete resolution is one year from the unit’s initial response to the EEO Program Office. It must be recognized that the resolution of some violations may be accomplished at little or no cost and time while others may require considerable cost over a much longer period of time. The EEO Program staff will work with all parties involved toward a resolution of violations in the shortest period of time possible. If the unit is still not in compliance, the case is then referred to the DOI Office of Civil Rights to conduct an on-site compliance review at the unit’s expense. Any correspondence from the EEO Program Office to a unit or complainant will be copied to the complainant and respondent. A status report will be required from the unit on a monthly or quarterly basis, depending upon the number and nature of actions required.
  9. Section 504 also provides that the complainant, if dissatisfied with the findings regarding the allegations and the complaint resolution, has the right to file an appeal with the Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior within 90 days of receiving results of the investigation. The Department of the Interior shall notify the complainant of the results of the appeal within 60 days.
  10. It is appropriate to initiate settlement negotiations at any time during an investigation of a Section 504 complaint. The remedies to Section 504 violations should be tailored to cure the specific situation that gave rise to the alleged violation; i.e., to specifically address the issue (s) of the complaint.

Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan

In accordance with Section 504, the NPS should conduct a self-evaluation of accessibility of its programs, policies, and practices to determine whether accessibility may be addressed through changes in the way such programs and services are provided. In the event that structural changes are necessary to meet the requirements of section 504, then a transition plan shall be developed setting forth the steps necessary to complete such changes. The transition plan should include the following:

  • Identify physical obstacles in the park that limit the accessibility of its programs or activity to individuals with disabilities.
  • Describe in detail the methods that will be used to make the program or facility readily accessible and usable.
  • Specify the schedule for taking the steps necessary to achieve full program accessibility and if the transition plan is longer than one year, identify steps that will be taken during each year of the transition plan period.
  • Identify the person responsible for implementation of the transition plan.
EEO Section 504 Flowchart

NPS Graphic

U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service
EEO Program Processing Flowchart for Civil Rights Federally Conducted Cases
[Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973]

Box with text: Incoming Complaint

(arrow leading to next step)

Side note: By Day 5
Box with text: Acknowledgement Letter to Complainant

(arrow leading to next step)

Side note: By Day 45
Box with text: EEOP provides initial complaint investigation memorandum to Regional NPS Director noting allegations, relevant requirements, and requesting status report within 45 days

(arrow leading to next step)

Side note: By Day 90
Box with text: Response due from Respondent NPS officials

(arrow leading to next step)

Side note: If no violation exists
Box with text: Complaint Review by NPS EEO

(arrow leading to next step)

Box with text: Within 60 days EEOP provides written letter of findings to Regional Director with copy to complainant.

(arrow leading to next step)

Box with text: Within 30 days EEOP continues to monitor implementation schedule and provide Transition Plan Guidance; maintain telecommunication with related NPS Accessibility Coordinator (AC) or other assigned liaison to provide technical assistance and/or required periodic status reports until case is resolved.

(arrows leading to two possible steps)

Box with text: If voluntary compliance is not met, then refer case to DOI

Side note: By Day 180
Box with text: NPS Closes Case - Complainant may appeal the NPS decision within 90 days of the decision. The appeal is filed with and decided by the Deputy Secretary, DOI.

Last updated: August 14, 2023