Frequently Asked Questions

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

ADR provides for a qualified and neutral party to attempt to resolve an employment matter. For matters pertaining to complaints of discrimination, ADR can begin at any point during the pre-complaint or formal complaint stages. ADR can be particularly useful where communication has broken down or emotions are intense. Discussions during ADR sessions are confidential; and all written documentation obtained for the benefit of ADR will not be retained, or used as part of the official complaint’s record.

Civil Rights Directorate

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

A: Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a process in which a facilitator/third party neutral assists parties in reaching a resolution through the use of various techniques.

Q: What is the purpose of ADR?

A: ADR provides an opportunity for the individuals in a dispute to discuss their issues with the assistance of a facilitator/third party neutral, and to explore mutually satisfactory ways to resolve the issues.

Q: What types of ADR processes are available at Coast Guard?

A: The following ADR processes may be used either individually, or in combination:

Facilitated Conversation allows the parties to meet together and to have uninterrupted time to speak about the issues. Ideally, the parties will clarify misunderstandings and work out problems in the work relationship.

Shuttle Diplomacy allows each party to propose an idea for settling the dispute to


a third party and to hear the other party’s proposal without meeting together.

Mediation - In mediation, the parties meet in-person, by telephone or video conference with a third party who gives each party uninterrupted time to speak

during a joint session and then has private meetings with each party concerning their ideas for resolution. If the parties come to an agreement, a Resolution

Agreement is prepared for the parties to sign later.



Q: What is the most common ADR method used by Coast Guard?

A: Mediation is the most common ADR method used by Coast Guard. Mediation involves a neutral third party who has no decision making authority.

Q: What are the benefits of ADR?

A: Some benefits of ADR are:

 Enhances communication between parties

 Allows for resolution to be reached with terms both parties can agree upon

 Changes the attitudes of the parties involved

 Improves the trust of the parties involved

 Saves time versus traditional litigation of disputes, which can often take two or more years

 Saves taxpayers dollars versus traditional litigation of disputes, which may involve attorney fees

Q: What does the ADR process entail?

A: The ADR process includes the following:

1. A request for ADR by the aggrieved party.

2. An ADR suitability determination by the Civil Rights Directorate Staff.

3. A representative from the Command with decision-making authority.

4. An ADR facilitator/third party neutral.

5. A setting conducive for ADR discussions.

6. The possibility of resolution and a settlement agreement.

7. The timely coordination and execution of settlement terms by the responsible parties.

8. Conclusion of the proceedings.

9. Monitoring compliance.

Q: What is an ADR facilitator/third party neutral?

A: An ADR facilitator/third party neutral is a neutral party, who neither advocates for a party nor renders any decisions. They facilitate communication between parties, help

each side gain a clearer perspective of the situation, and assist the parties in developing mutually satisfactory options for resolving the issues. In mediation, the facilitator/third party neutral would be the mediator.

Q: Who are ADR facilitators?

A: Civil Rights Service Providers serve as facilitators. Additionally, trained agency personnel outside of Civil Rights Directorate or individuals from external sources may also serve as facilitators.

Q: Is ADR confidential?

A: Yes. There are no written records or notes maintained except for a resolution agreement if a resolution is achieved.

Q: When is ADR available?

A: ADR can be requested at any stage of the complaint process.

Q: Is the Command/Unit required to participate in ADR?

A: Pre-complaint, the Command/Unit must participate in ADR if the Aggrieved Person elects it except in the limited circumstances in which ADR is inappropriate. In the formal complaint stage, decisions to allow the Command/Unit to reject ADR participation are made on a case by case basis.

Q: Am I entitled to representation in an ADR session?

A: Yes, you may have an attorney or other representative in the ADR session. The representative participates in the session as your advisor. You are responsible for any

expenses associated with the participation of your representative.

Q: Do I need to bring witnesses to the ADR session?

A: Witnesses do not participate in ADR sessions.

Q: Are the parties required to reach settlement in ADR?

A: Settlement is not a requirement for participation in ADR. Neither party can be coerced to accept a settlement.

Q: As the Aggrieved Person, how much time do I have to make a decision whether to accept a settlement?

A: In cases that do not allege age discrimination, the parties should come to the ADR session prepared to make a decision. In cases involving age discrimination, the

Aggrieved Person has up to 21 calendar days to consider the agreement before signing it and seven calendar days to revoke the agreement after signing.

Q: Who to contact to find out more about ADR?

A: Contact your servicing Civil Rights Service Provider (CRSP) for more information about ADR. For a list of CRSPs in your geographical location, please visit or contact 1-888-992-7387 or TTY 202-372-4523.

Anti-Harassment Policy

The purpose of this policy is to prescribe procedures, in accordance with the Coast Guard and DHS’ Anti-Harassment Policy, for combating harassment in the Coast Guard and to promptly correct any harassment that occurs. This policy also prescribes additional notification procedures for conduct that constitutes as a hate incident. The Coast Guard continually strives to meet the highest standards of personal respect by valuing human dignity and diversity in accordance with our core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty.

Q: What is harassment? 

A: USCG policy defines harassment as unwelcome conduct, whether verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, offensive, or hostile environment on the basis of an individual’s protected status, which includes: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, political affiliation, or any other basis protected by law.

Q: What are some examples of harassment as defined above?

A: Harassment that violates USCG policy can occur in a number of ways. Various examples include:

Making jokes, remarks or displaying images, pictures, or other materials that unreasonably interfere with work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

A supervisor coercing an employee into an unwelcome sexual relationship and then rewarding the employee with a promotion.

A supervisor taking disciplinary action or denying a promotion to an employee because he or she rejected sexual advances from the supervisor.

Retaliating against an employee for alleging harassment or participating in fact-finding interviews.

Being the target of offensive or demeaning remarks because the employee is a single mother with children.

Denying the opportunity of an employee to participate in an off-site training because he or she is over 40 years of age.

Verbal abuse/put-downs, name-calling or the use of racial epithets or slang that creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work environment.

Intimidating behavior such as asking for, or offering, sexual favors in return for positive performance appraisal or promotion.

Q: What is a hate incident, and how is it different from harassment?

A: USCG defines hate incidents as intentional acts of intolerance committed against a person, a group of individuals, or property which is motivated, in whole or in part, by bias against a protected group and which is intended to or is more likely than not to have the effect of intimidating others to similar conduct.

Q: What are some examples of hate incidents as described above?

A: Hate incidents usually, but not always, involve public displays. Examples include the display, presentation, creation or depiction of a noose, swastika, or any other symbol widely identified with oppression or hatred, photographs, images or other printed or electronic material that evidences oppression or hatred, irrespective of size, type, or how it is displayed or presented.

Q: Why does the USCG have an anti-harassment and hate incident procedures policy?

A: The anti-harassment procedures allows USCG management to address employee allegations of harassment or hate incidents and take immediate and appropriate corrective action, including the use of disciplinary actions, to eliminate harassing conduct regardless of whether the conduct violated the law. The goal is to address harassing conduct at the earliest possible stage, before it can become "severe or pervasive" harassment within the meaning of anti-discrimination laws.

Q: Where should I go to report harassment or hate incidents?

A: USCG civilian and military members who believe they have been the victims or witnesses of harassment or hate incidents should report the matter immediately to their chain of command. They may also report the matter to their servicing Civil Rights Service Provider (CRSP), or to headquarters, Civil Rights Directorate.

Q: What if I believe I have been harassed, but not based on the reasons above?

A: Harassment covered under USCG policy is limited to the definition and protected categories, e.g., race, gender, etc., provided above. If the alleged conduct you report does not meet the definition of harassment under this policy, there are other options you may wish to explore to address your concerns. Your chain of command, Personnel Officer, Human Resource Officer, or Command Staff Advisor (CSA), can provide additional information regarding these options.

Q: Is reporting harassment the same as filing an EEO/EO complaint?

A: No. The anti-harassment procedures do not affect the rights of an individual or group to initiate a complaint under the EEO complaints process. The anti-harassment process is entirely separate and apart from the EEO complaints process. This means that if an employee reports allegations of harassment in accordance with the anti-harassment procedures, he or she has not filed an EEO/EO complaint. An employee who wishes to file an EEO/EO discrimination complaint should contact his/her servicing CRSP within 45 days of the alleged harassing conduct.

Q: What is the role of managers and supervisors?

A: Managers and supervisors represent the USCG and are responsible for maintaining a work environment free of harassment. Managers or supervisors who observe or are made aware of allegations of harassment are required to act promptly, effectively, and in accordance with USCG anti-harassment policy and procedures to determine the scope of the alleged harassing conduct and take corrective or disciplinary action as appropriate and necessary.

Q: If I report harassment, will the information provided be kept confidential?

A: All information shall remain confidential to the greatest extent possible in accordance with the Privacy Act. Information is restricted to those who have a "need to know" and may include fact-finders, the servicing CRSP, witnesses, the alleged harasser, and supervisors who are required to take action on the matter raised.

Q: If I report harassment and then change my mind about going forward with the allegations, what happens?

A: The USCG is still obligated to look into the allegations raised.

For more information, please refer to the Civil Rights Manual, COMDTINST M5350.4C, Chapter 2, Section C, Part 1, or speak to your servicing civil rights service provider.

Reasonable Accommodation

Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 791, prohibits federal employers from engaging in employment discrimination against person with physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities. This law also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities unless to do so would cause undue hardship.

Q: What is reasonable accommodation?

A: Reasonable accommodation is a change or adjustment to a work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.

Reasonable accommodation may include acquiring or modifying equipment or devices; job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; reassignment to a vacant position; adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies; providing readers and interpreters; making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.


Q: Who is an individual with a disability?

A: An individual with a disability 1) has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more of the person’s major life activities, 2) has a record of such impairment, or 3) is regarded as having such impairment.


Q: Who is considered a qualified individual with a disability?

A: A qualified individual with a disability has the skills, experience, education, and other requirements of the job the individual holds or desires and can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodations.


Q: Who is responsible for granting Reasonable Accommodations?

A: The requestor’s supervisor or someone within the supervisory chain of command (Decision Maker).


Q: What steps Decision Makers or designees take after receiving a request for reasonable accommodation?

A: After the Decision Maker or appropriate Coast Guard official receives a request for accommodation, the next step is for the parties to begin an interactive process. This involves dialog between the individual requesting the accommodation and the Decision Maker to determine specifics about the requested accommodation, alternatives, the need for additional documentation, or information. The employee or applicant requesting the accommodation must cooperate throughout this process.

During this process, the name of the Decision Maker should be provided to the individual requesting the accommodation; and a plan of action the Decision Maker will take during the course of the accommodation deliberation.


Q: May the Decision Maker request documentation from the individual requesting the reasonable accommodation?

A: Yes. When the disability and/or the need for accommodation is not obvious, the Decision Maker may ask the individual for reasonable documentation about his/her disability and functional limitations. The Decision Maker is entitled to know whether the individual has a qualified disability for which s/he requests a reasonable accommodation. [Decisions Makers are urged to contact a servicing Civil Rights Service Provider for technical assistance. Medical information is privacy protected and must remain handled accordingly and confidential.]


Q: Are there situations when the Decision Maker cannot ask for documentation?

A: Yes. A Decision Maker cannot ask for documentation when: 1) both the disability and the need for reasonable accommodation are obvious, or 2) the individual has already provided the Decision Maker or the Coast Guard with sufficient information to substantiate that s/he has an qualified disability and is in need of the requested accommodation.


Q: How long do decisions for Reasonable Accommodations take?

A: Coast Guard procedures require a Decision Maker to make a written decision within fifteen (15) business days of receipt of the request for accommodations; and to knowledge receipt of a request within five (5) business days using form CG-6080 (Confirmation of Request for Reasonable Accommodation).


Q: When would a request for a Reasonable Accommodation get denied?

A: A reasonable accommodation request may be denied for a number of reasons, such as a failure to provide sufficient medical documentation; the requestor is not a disabled individual within the purview of Title VII; the accommodation requested would create an undue financial burden; the accommodation would create an undue administrative burden; and the change or exception would fundamentally alter the nature of the Coast Guard’s mission or business.


Q: Do requests for Reasonable Accommodations need to be in writing?

A: No. Employees may request accommodations both orally, and in writing from their first level supervisor or "Decision Maker," servicing Human Resources Specialist (HRS) or Command Staff Advisor (CSA). As stated above, Coast Guard management must confirm receipt in writing by completing the form entitled Acknowledgement of Request for Reasonable Accommodation, CG-6080.


Q: Who can request Reasonable Accommodations?

A: Any Coast Guard member, family member, healthcare professional, job applicant, or a representative of the member or applicant. When requests are made on behalf of the member or applicant, to the extent possible, the individual with a disability should be contacted to confirm that he/she in fact wishes the accommodation.


Q: What requests are not considered forms of Reasonable Accommodations?

A: The Coast Guard does not have to get rid of an essential function of a job or lower production standards that it has for all employees in the same job category. Also, the Coast Guard in general is not obligated to provide personal use items, such eyeglasses, wheelchair or hearing aids that a person uses both on and off the job.


Q: Does the Coast Guard have to change an individual's supervisor as a form of reasonable accommodation?

A: No. The Decision Maker does not have to change an employee’s supervisor as a reasonable accommodation. Although Coast Guard is not required to change an employee’s supervisor as a form of reasonable accommodation, a supervisory method may be altered as a form of reasonable accommodation.


Q: Should managers withhold discipline or termination of an employee who, because of a disability, violated a conduct rule that is job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity?

A: No. Management must not excuse a violation of a uniformly applied conduct rule that is job-related and consistent with business necessity. Management must not tolerate or excuse violence, threats of violence, stealing, or destruction of property. Management may discipline an employee with a disability for engaging in such misconduct if it would impose the same discipline on an employee without a disability.


Q: What are some examples of reasonable accommodations?

A: Some examples of reasonable accommodation are:

 Making existing facilities readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities;

 Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices;

 Adjusting or modifying examinations or policies;

 Adapting computer software/equipment;

 Providing flexible time lines for program completion;

 Providing qualified readers, note takers, and/or sign language interpreters;

 Providing alternative print format


Q: Will my personal medical information be protected if I request a reasonable accommodation?

A: Yes. The Decision Maker or any other Coast Guard official who receives information in connection with a request for reasonable accommodation must protect such information to the extent possible and only share information on a need to know basis in order to make determinations about the reasonable accommodation request. (See Chapter 6, Section C, Part 6, COMDTINST M5350.4C for specific rules governing the confidentiality of medical information.)


Q: Is the Coast Guard relieved of its obligation to provide a Reasonable Accommodation for an employee with a disability who fails to take medication, to obtain medical treatment, or to use an assistive device (such as a hearing aid)?

A: No. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended, requires an employer should act to provide reasonable accommodation to remove workplace barriers, regardless of what effect medication, other medical treatment, or assistive devices may have on an employee's ability to perform the job. However, if an employee with a disability, with or without reasonable accommodation, cannot perform the essential functions of the position or poses a direct threat in the absence of medication, treatment, or an assistive device, then s/he is unqualified.


Q: Are there other resources for Reasonable Accommodations?

A: Yes. There are several organizations that the Coast Guard has partnered with in order to provide quality reasonable accommodation services to Coast Guard employees. The Department of Transportation (DOT) Disability Resource Center (DRC), Department of Defense (DoD) Computer Accessibility Program (CAP), and Job Accommodation Network (JAN) are several resources that provides job accommodations and related services to Coast Guard employees. Please contact your local Civil Rights Service Provider at for more information.


Q: Does the Coast Guard have central funding for requests like chairs or footstools?

A: Yes. Neither the Disability Resource Center (DRC) nor Computer Accessibility Program (CAP) will fund items such as chairs or footstools. However, these items may be paid for through Coast Guard’s central funding and or through local unit or component organizational funds, depending upon the circumstances.


Q: Who is responsible for maintaining reasonable accommodation records?

A: The Civil Rights Directorate is responsible for collecting, reviewing and analyzing reasonable accommodation activity on a quarterly basis. Annually, an aggregate report, without names, is submitted to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission through DHS.


Q: Are the Reasonable Accommodation Procedures available in other formats?

A: Yes. As per 29 C.F.R. § 1614.203(d)(3)(i), copies of the reasonable accommodation procedures are available for job applicants and employees in written and accessible formats. Requests may be made with the individual's applicable Decision Maker. An employee wanting further information concerning these procedures, the final decision regarding their reasonable accommodation request, or the status of their reasonable accommodation request, they may contact the IWDP at


Q: What is an essential function?


A: Those job duties so fundamental to the position that the individual holds or desires that he or she cannot do the job without performing them are considered essential functions. A function can be essential if, among other things (1) the position exists specifically to perform that function, (2) there are a limited number of other employees who could perform the function, or (3) the function is specialized and the individual is hired based upon his or her ability to perform it. Determination of the essential functions of a position must be made on a case-by-case basis so that it reflects the job as actually performed and not simply the components of a generic position description.

Q: What is a major life activity?


A: Basic activities that the average person in the general population can perform with little or no difficulty include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, speaking, hearing, breathing, learning, and working, as well as major bodily functions such as functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive function. (Note that this is not an exhaustive list.)


Q: What is an undue hardship?


A: A specific type of accommodation that, if granted, will cause significant difficulty or expense. A determination of undue hardship is made on a case-by-case basis, considering factors that include the nature and cost of the accommodation and the impact of the accommodation on the operation of the agency. If an undue hardship determination is made on an accommodation request, it does not have to be granted.


Q: What forms are helpful?

A: Request for Reasonable Accommodation, CG-6079.

Confirmation of Request for Reasonable Accommodation, CG-6080.

Reasonable Accommodation Decision and Reporting Form, CG-6081.      

Personal Assistance Services

Personal Assistance Services (PAS) means "assistance with performing activities of daily living that an individual would typically perform if he or she did not have a disability, and that is not otherwise required as a reasonable accommodation, including, for example, assistance with removing and putting on clothing, eating, and using the restroom." Someone providing PAS might push a wheelchair or assist someone with getting into or out of a vehicle at the worksite

Q: Who may request a PAS?


A: The Coast Guard is only required to provide PAS to an individual if-


1. The individual is an employee of the agency;


2. The individual has a targeted disability;


3. The individual requires the services because of his or her targeted disability;


4. The individual will be able to perform the essential functions of the job, without posing a direct threat to safety, once PAS and any required reasonable accommodations have been provided; and


5. Providing PAS will not impose undue hardship on the agency.


Q: What is a Targeted Disability?


A: Targeted disabilities are a subset of conditions that would be considered disabilities under the Rehabilitation Act. The federal government has recognized that qualified individuals with certain disabilities face significant barriers to employment, which for some people may include lack of access to PAS in the workplace, that are above and beyond the barriers faced by people with the broader range of disabilities. The federal government calls these "targeted disabilities."


Note, however, that not everyone with a targeted disability will be entitled to PAS under the new regulations, because only some individuals with targeted disabilities require assistance with basic activities like eating and using the restroom. Medical conditions that are more likely to result in the need for PAS include, for example, missing limbs or paralysis due to spinal cord injury. 


Q: Can I receive a PAS to commute to work?


A: No. The Coast Guard is only required to provide PAS when the individual is working, unless he or she is on work-related travel.


Q: Does a PAS include medical services?


A: No. PAS do not include, for example, performing medical procedures (e.g., administering shots) or medical monitoring (e.g., monitoring blood pressure).


Q: Does a PAS help an individual perform their job functions?


A: No. PAS allow individuals to perform activities of daily living that an individual would typically perform if he or she did not have a disability. PAS do not help individuals with disabilities perform their specific job functions, such as reviewing documents or answering questions that come through a call-in center. PAS differ from services that help an individual to perform job-related tasks, such as sign language interpreters who enable individuals who are deaf to communicate with coworkers, and readers who enable individuals who are blind or have learning disabilities to read printed text. Those services are required as reasonable accommodations, if the individual needs them because of a disability and providing them does not impose undue hardship on the agency. An agency's obligation to provide reasonable accommodations is unaffected by the new regulations.


Q: How do I request a PAS?


A: Individuals request a PAS exactly the same way one requests a reasonable accommodation and the PAS procedure is exactly the same as the procedure for reasonable accommodations. Requests do not need to mention Section 501 or the EEOC's regulations explicitly, or use terms such as "PAS" or "affirmative action" to trigger the agency's obligation to consider the request.


Q: Can my request for a PAS be denied?


A: Yes. The Coast Guard is only required to provide PAS if the requesting employee is entitled to them under the regulations. Therefore, the Coast Guard may deny a request for PAS if-


1. The requestor is not an employee of the agency;


2. The requestor does not have a targeted disability;


3. The targeted disability does not create a need for PAS;


4. The requester is not able to perform the essential functions of the job, even with PAS and any reasonable accommodations;


5. The requester would create a direct threat to safety on the job, even with PAS and any reasonable accommodations; or


6. Providing PAS would impose undue hardship on the agency.


Q: Is my information confidential?


A: Yes, as per the Coast Guard’s reasonable accommodation procedures.

Civil Rights Command Checklist

By regulation, Commanding Officers/Officers in Charge (CO/OICs) are responsible for civil rights leadership and compliance.  The Civil Rights Directorate (CRD) assists CO/OICs with these responsibilities by providing guidance and tools, such as the “Command Checklist”.  This particular tool distills all CO/OICs civil rights responsibilities described by law, regulation, Executive Order, Management Directive, and Commandant Instruction into one simple checklist, which allows commands to easily indicate whether or not their commands are compliant. Commands with 50 or more personnel are required to complete the checklist by 31 October annually.  Civil Rights Service Providers (CRSPs) are available to assist commands with achieving compliance for any element(s).

FY13 Command Checklist Elements

FY13 Command Checklist Trends

Inappropriate Interview Questions of Federal Employees or Applicants

Are you looking to fill the open positions in your unit or office, and prepping to conduct interviews of the applicants?  If so, when developing those interview questions, be sure to also review what not to ask when interviewing federal employees or applicants.  Some common inappropriate questions include:

1.Are you a U.S. citizen? (adversely impacts national origin)

2.Do you have a disability?

3.Are you planning to marry/have a family? When?

4.Have you ever filed a workers’ compensation claim?

5.How many days of work did you miss last year due to illness?

6.Have you had any major health problems in the past?

7.Are you taking any prescription drugs?

8.Do you have AIDS?

9.Have you ever been treated for alcoholism?

10.Have you ever been treated for depression?

11.What off-the-job activities do you participate in?

12.Would you have a problem working with a female partner?

13.Do you have children? How old are they?

14.How old are you?

15.When do you intend to retire?

16.What is your date of birth?

17.What year did you graduate from high school? (reveals age)

18.What is your race?

19.What is your religion?

20.Are you able to work on Saturdays or Sundays? (only inappropriate if the job does not

require weekend work)

21.What is your ethnic background?

22.That is an interesting name, where is it from?

23.Do you speak English well?

24.You have a fascinating accent. Where are you from?

25.What neighborhood do you live in?

26.Tell me about your family. Do you have any kids or parents living at home with you?

27.What year did you get out of high school?

28.What is your ethnic background? (Not, "You have a nice name. Where is it from?" either.)

29.Do you have any religious activities that might be viewed negatively by your coworkers?

30.What was your attendance like at your last job? Of the days you missed, how many were for

sick leave?

31.What’s your idea of a fun party?