Stuttgart EEO seeks collateral duty counselors
March 22, 2011
STUTTGART, Germany -- When employees in U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart feel they've been discriminated against, they can call the garrison Equal Employment Opportunity Office. EEO specialists are trained to answer questions, help them resolve problems or lodge a formal complaint.
But, for the service to work most effectively, the EEO needs counselors.
The USAG Stuttgart EEO is currently seeking garrison employees to join the collateral duty EEO counselor team. Those interested in applying must be able to dedicate at least 20 percent of their duty time to the team, and plan to be in the Stuttgart area for the next two years.
Most importantly, they must believe and uphold the principles of equal opportunity for all, according to Eshe Faulcon, USAG Stuttgart EEO specialist.
"What we're really looking for are people who are passionate about EEO and what it stands for, which is fairness and equality in the workplace," Faulcon said.
Counselors conduct inquiries into informal complaints from Department of the Army employees who feel they've been discriminated against in the areas of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40 and over), genetic information, physical or mental disability or in retaliation for participating in an EEO activity.
"In a nutshell, the main thing we're charged to do is to assist civilians when they believe they were discriminated against in one of the nine protected classes and if they feel it has impacted their job," Faulcon said.
"The purpose of the EEO Counseling Program is to resolve allegations of workplace discrimination at the lowest level possible and to also reduce processing time, cost and the number of formal EEO complaints filed," she added.
Counselors serve as a communications bridge between aggrieved employees and supervisors.
In order to successfully do this, EEO counselors must be sensitive to the needs of both parties.
"It's not as easy as it sounds," said Danielle Denis, who has been a collateral duty EEO counselor in Stuttgart since June 2009. "You cannot be partial. You are an objective person ... listening and trying to help them come to an agreeable conclusion ... as early as possible."
If an informal complaint cannot be resolved, counselors advise employees of their right to file a formal complaint.
Denis, who also serves as the Information, Referral and Follow-up Program Manager at USAG Stuttgart Army Community Service, has received several training opportunities as part of the EEO Counselor Program. In addition to quarterly EEO refresher training, she was able to shadow a veteran EEO counselor and attended a 40-hour alternative dispute resolution course at USAG Schinnen to become a certified mediator.
However, she said the greatest benefit she has received through EEO counseling has been helping others.
"It was an opportunity for me to hopefully make a difference because I believe in equality [in the workplace] ... I think everybody deserves a chance to participate freely and fairly," Denis said.
Whenever there is human interaction, there is a need to solve disputes, and it is necessary to solve them promptly, she added. This makes the EEO counselor's role crucial to USAG Stuttgart.
"I believe there's always a mutually agreeable solution," she said.