Army EO Complaint ProcessNovember 26, 2021
Army EO Complaint Process.
The Army EO Complaint Process is governed by AR 600-20, Chapter 6. Any complaints involving discrimination based on race, color, sex (including gender identity), national origin, religion, or sexual orientation, are considered "EO Complaints."
Paragraph 6-6 states that EO complaints should be resolved at the lowest level; however, this is not a requirement. If an EO issue is not resolved at the lowest level, a complainant can file either a formal or informal complaint. This formally starts the Army EO Complaint Process.
An informal complaint is a complaint that is not filed on a DA Form 7279. An informal complaint can be resolved by anyone, including a member of the chain of command, someone outside of the chain of command, a peer, or an Equal Opportunity Representative. An informal complaint can also be resolved using the procedures of AR 15-6.
A formal complaint is a complaint that is filed on a DA Form 7279. This form should be filed with the Military Equal Opportunity Representative. Within 3 days of receiving the complaint, the subject's Commander is required to be informed. Formal EO Complaints should be filed within 60 days of the incident, or incidents, in question; however, a Commander can still investigate any complaint made after this 60-day time period. In today's Army, Commanders will likely investigate any EO complaint made, regardless of a delay in timing.
The subject's Commander, within 5 days of receipt of the DA Form 7279, will appoint an investigation using the procedures of AR 15-6. Depending on the level of Command investigating the Complaint, the O6 or General Level Commander may need to be informed. The Commander in question will also create a reprisal plan, and ensure that the subject of the investigation is so informed.
The EO Investigation should be completed within 60 days; however, extensions can be granted by higher levels of Command. Any failure to comply with the timelines does not legally affect the validity of the EO investigation in question.
An EO investigation is indistinguishable from a normal AR 15-6 investigation. The only additional requirement is a required review of the investigation from the unit equal opportunity representative.
After the investigation is completed, the Commander is required to inform both the subject and the complainant of the investigating officer's results. The complainant has the right to obtain a redacted copy of the investigating officer's report. Both the complainant and the subject can appeal the investigation results, twice. The first appeal is typically to the Brigade Level Command, and the second to the General Officer level of Command. Appeals must be filed within 7 days of receipt of the notification of either the investigation results or the first appeal results. After all appeals are decided, or not filed, the Army EO Complaint Process is officially over.
A substantiated EO complaint (informal or formal) can result in adverse action for the subject. Common adverse actions resulting from a substantiated complaint include: GOMORs, Article 15s, Referred NCOERs, and Referred OERs. Additionally, substantiated EO complaints typically result in the initiation of elimination (Officers) or separation (Enlisted). Even if separation is not initiated locally, Enlisted Soldiers with a substantiated EO complaint can face separation under the Army QMP.
Because the consequences are severe, and potentially career ending, any subject of an Army EO Complaint should immediately consult with a lawyer. JAGs (TDS or Legal Assistance) do not typically have the time and experience to adequately advise anyone under an EO investigation. Furthermore, if a complaint is substantiated and follow-on adverse actions occur, a different JAG is usually assigned. This destroys any continuity in the subject's legal case. Soldiers under investigation have the option to retain Civilian Counsel to assist. This allows a Soldier to chose their own Counsel, who can advise the subject until the completion of the case, even if follow-on actions occur.
This Article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry.