U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Jun 30, 2022

§ 15c.7 - Complaints.

(a) Filing of complaints. Any person who believes he/she or any specific class of individuals has been subject to discrimination by a recipient or believes that the recipient is otherwise in noncompliance with the provisions of the Age Act or this regulation may file a complaint with OASCR. The USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form may be used to file a complaint.

(b) Time and place of filing. All age discrimination complaints alleging discrimination or noncompliance must be filed within 180 days of the last discriminatory act, to be timely. All complaints under this part shall be filed with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC 20250.

(c) Notice of rights and responsibilities. USDA shall provide notice to the complainant and the recipient of their:

(1) Rights and obligations under complaint procedures including their right to have a representative at all stages of the complaint process;

(2) Rights to contact the agency for information and assistance regarding the complaint resolution process; and

(3) Obligation to participate actively in efforts toward speedy resolution of the complaint.

(d) Mediation of complaints. All complaints that allege discrimination based on age shall be mediated in an attempt to resolve disputes at the earliest stage possible. The complainant and the recipient are required to participate in the mediation process. If the complainant and recipient reach a mutually satisfactory resolution of the complaint during the mediation period, they shall reduce the agreement to writing.

(e) Investigation of complaints. If the parties are unable to reach a resolution, USDA shall investigate the complaint. During the investigation of the complaint, OASCR or an agency delegated complaint processing authority shall use informal fact finding methods, including joint or separate discussions with the complainant and recipient, to establish the facts and, if possible, settle the complaint on terms that are mutually agreeable to the parties. USDA may seek the assistance of any involved State agency. If informal resolution efforts are unsuccessful, OASCR shall complete the investigation.

(f) Final determination. After a complete investigation, OASCR shall make a final determination as to the merits of the complaint. The complainant shall be notified of the final determination and provided notice of his or her right to file a civil action under the Age Act, 42 U.S.C. 6104(e), and 15c.10 of this part.

(g) Voluntary compliance. If OASCR or an agency delegated complaint processing authority finds that age discrimination has occurred, USDA shall attempt to obtain voluntary compliance. The recipient shall take any remedial action which USDA may require to overcome the effects of discrimination. If USDA cannot obtain voluntary compliance, it shall undertake enforcement of the Age Act and this regulation.