Did you know that the Resolution & Equity Division (R&E) in the NIH Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) has a dynamic team of informal counselors, formal specialists, investigators, and Final Agency Decision (FAD) writers? The R&E team supports an unbiased EEO process for individuals who seek to resolve workplace discrimination.
Kenrick Small, Acting R&E Director: “To me, R&E is the heart of the EDI office. It is where people turn to get help when they feel that they have been subjected to discrimination. It is a place where people get educated on their rights as employees. It is a place where people who desire to help others work tirelessly every day to ensure that the workplace is fair, equitable, and free from discrimination.”
The informal counselors educate the NIH workforce on employee rights and responsibilities in the EEO process. The EDI informal counselors assist with identifying the claims and bases raised by a potential complaint, conduct inquiries during the initial interviews to identify jurisdictional questions, and seek resolution of a dispute at the lowest possible level through informal counseling or alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
Eric Hebron, Branch Director, Informal Team: “Fairness is at work standing guard to protect the rights of all. I feel honored to be working in an area that provides some degree of protection against unfairness and discrimination to all employees regardless of their race, color, sexual orientation, disability, or any other unique identifier.”
The informal counselors liaise daily with a variety of agency stakeholders to improve strategic thinking, manage change, and enhance organizational culture and performance. They provide an array of services –– processing of EEO complaints, creating customized training and toolkits which address manager and employee workplace needs, and providing workshops and programs that recognize leaders within our agency.
Leona Bedrossian, Counselor: “I love problem-solving, and as an EEO-counselor, I have the opportunity to work with both parties to try and resolve something that wasn’t initially thought to be resolvable! While it doesn’t always end up that way, I strongly believe that people want to come to work feeling valued and respected and that’s what I am always striving for.”
Sandra Clark, Counselor: “R&E has taught me to be a neutral representative and how to get a resolution that works for both parties.”
Chris Thompson, Counselor: “Treating others the way I would want to be treated is crucial. I have a passion for inclusiveness where everyone is treated equally without being subjected to discrimination, and accomplishing win-win resolutions where all the parties are made whole. I love helping people, and knowing that I have touched someone by counseling or facilitating gives me a sense of personal fulfillment within the NIH community.”
The EDI formal complaints branch is responsible for processing all formal complaints of discrimination filed in compliance with 29 C.F.R. §1614 and EEOC Management Directive 110.
Chinara Brown, Acting Branch Director, Formal Team: “I didn’t choose EEO, EEO chose me. My entire federal career has been in EEO, specifically in the complaints arena, and I have worn many hats. I started as an EEO assistant and now work as a branch director; I wouldn’t change this experience for anything. This career path, assisting individuals navigating through the discrimination process, has been very rewarding.”
The formal complaints specialists oversee stage two in the complaint process which involves reviewing information to determine whether to accept or dismiss a complaint for investigation. The formal specialist does not determine the merits in a formal complaint but ensures the process is unbiased and objective.
Deneen Hodges, Formal Specialist: “My favorite aspect of resolution and equity work is outreach and impactful collaborations in the diversity and inclusion space.”
Pam Oliver, Formal Specialist: “The importance of R&E work reflects on the overall mission and goals of the NIH where all are encouraged to bring their whole self to work in a discrimination-free environment to maintain the NIH as the nation’s premier medical research agency.”
The EEO investigators collect evidence so that an adjudicator can determine whether discrimination occurred. They avoid conflicts of interest and maintain neutrality during the investigative process, request documentation, and interview and obtain affidavits from complainants, responsible management officials, and witnesses.
Dawn Briscoe, Investigator: “Being an investigator gives me great pride by giving me the opportunity to be another ear for those seeking workplace resolutions while remaining neutral in the EEO process.”
Audrey Wilson, Final Agency Decision (FAD) Writer: “I am thankful for the opportunity to work at EDI in the Resolution and Equity Division as a Final Agency Decision (FAD) Writer. In my role as an adjudicator, it is my honor to serve as a neutral party and render a decision that is equitable despite the competing positions of the complainant and the agency.”
Yomba Yokwan, Investigator: “In my view, R&E work serves as a medium where people can get justice, equality, and respect.”
Michael Gilmore, Esq., Investigator: “To me, R&E means that every employee has a meaningful pathway to success at the NIH free of unnecessary challenges.”
The R&E division is integral to the success of the agency. The team puts the NIH community first and supports the mission of the agency. We focus our energy and efforts on providing competent, efficient, and responsive services the EDI way: 365 days a year.
Meet us virtually on August 25th during our online Meet R&E session!
Do you have a story idea for us? Do you want to submit a guest blog? If it's about equity, diversity, or inclusion, please submit to email@example.com.