(a) The Secretary shall provide that the employment discrimination complaint resolution system within the Department be established and administered so as to encourage timely and fair resolution of concerns and complaints. The Secretary shall take steps to ensure that the system is administered in an objective, fair, and effective manner and in a manner that is perceived by employees and other interested parties as being objective, fair, and effective.
(b) The Secretary shall provide—
(1) that employees responsible for counseling functions associated with employment discrimination and for receiving, investigating, and processing complaints of employment discrimination shall be supervised in those functions by, and report to, an Assistant Secretary or a Deputy Assistant Secretary for complaint resolution management; and
(2) that employees performing employment discrimination complaint resolution functions at a facility of the Department shall not be subject to the authority, direction, and control of the Director of the facility with respect to those functions.
(c) The Secretary shall ensure that all employees of the Department receive adequate education and training for the purposes of this section and section 319 of this title.
(d) The Secretary shall, when appropriate, impose disciplinary measures, as authorized by law, in the case of employees of the Department who engage in unlawful employment discrimination, including retaliation against an employee asserting rights under an equal employment opportunity law.
(A) Not later than 45 days after the end of each calendar quarter, the Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration shall submit to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives a report summarizing the employment discrimination complaints filed against the individuals referred to in paragraph (2) during such quarter.
(B) Subparagraph (A) shall apply in the case of complaints filed against individuals on the basis of such individuals' personal conduct and shall not apply in the case of complaints filed solely on the basis of such individuals' positions as officials of the Department.
(2) Paragraph (1) applies to the following officers and employees of the Department:
(A) The Secretary.
(B) The Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
(C) The Under Secretary for Health and the Under Secretary for Benefits.
(D) Each Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs and each Deputy Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
(E) The Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Memorial Affairs.
(F) The General Counsel of the Department.
(G) The Chairman of the Board of Veterans' Appeals.
(H) The Chairman of the Board of Contract Appeals of the Department.
(I) The director and the chief of staff of each medical center of the Department.
(J) The director of each Veterans Integrated Services Network.
(K) The director of each regional office of the Department.
(L) Each program director of the Central Office of the Department.
(3) Each report under this subsection—
(A) may not disclose information which identifies the individuals filing, or the individuals who are the subject of, the complaints concerned or the facilities at which the discrimination identified in such complaints is alleged to have occurred;
(B) shall summarize such complaints by type and by equal employment opportunity field office area in which filed; and
(C) shall include copies of such complaints, with the information described in subparagraph (A) redacted.
(4) Not later than April 1 each year, the Assistant Secretary shall submit to the committees referred to in paragraph (1)(A) a report on the complaints covered by paragraph (1) during the preceding year, including the number of such complaints filed during that year and the status and resolution of the investigation of such complaints.
(f) The Secretary shall ensure that an employee of the Department who seeks counseling relating to employment discrimination may elect to receive such counseling from an employee of the Department who carries out equal employment opportunity counseling functions on a full-time basis rather than from an employee of the Department who carries out such functions on a part-time basis.
(g) The number of employees of the Department whose duties include equal employment opportunity counseling functions as well as other, unrelated functions may not exceed 40 full-time equivalent employees. Any such employee may be assigned equal employment opportunity counseling functions only at Department facilities in remote geographic locations (as determined by the Secretary). The Secretary may waive the limitation in the preceding sentence in specific cases.
(h) The provisions of this section shall be implemented in a manner consistent with procedures applicable under regulations prescribed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
2003—Subsec. (e)(1)(A). Pub. L. 108–170 substituted "45 days" for "30 days".
1998—Subsec. (e)(2)(E). Pub. L. 105–368 substituted "Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Memorial Affairs" for "Director of the National Cemetery System".
Pub. L. 105–114, title I, §101(c), Nov. 21, 1997, 111 Stat. 2280, provided that: "Section 516 of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a), shall take effect 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act [Nov. 21, 1997]. Subsection (e) of that section shall take effect with respect to the first quarter of calendar year 1998."
Reports on Implementation and Operation of Equal Employment Opportunity System
Pub. L. 105–114, title I, §101(b), Nov. 21, 1997, 111 Stat. 2279, required the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit to Congress reports on the implementation and operation of the equal employment opportunity system within the Department of Veterans Affairs setting forth detailed information for each equal employment opportunity field office of the Department, with the first report due not later than Apr. 1, 1998, and subsequent reports due not later than Jan. 1, 1999, and Jan. 1, 2000.
Assessment and Review of Employment Discrimination Complaint Resolution System
Pub. L. 105–114, title I, §103, Nov. 21, 1997, 111 Stat. 2281, provided that:
"(2) The Secretary shall include in the agreement provisions necessary to ensure that the entity carries out its responsibilities under the agreement (including the exercise of its judgments concerning the assessment and review) in a manner free of influence from any source, including the officials and employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"(3) The Secretary may not enter into the agreement until 15 days after the date on which the Secretary notifies the Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives of the entity with which the Secretary proposes to enter into the agreement.
"(2) Under the agreement, the entity shall submit the assessment to the committees referred to in subsection (a)(3) and to the Secretary not later than June 1, 1998.
"(2) Under the agreement, the entity shall submit to the committees referred to in subsection (a)(3) and to the Secretary a report on the results of the review under paragraph (1) not later than June 1, 1999. The report shall include an assessment of the administration of the system, including the extent to which the system meets the objectives referred to in subsection (b)(1), and the effectiveness of the following:
"(A) Programs to train and maintain a cadre of individuals who are competent to investigate claims relating to employment discrimination.
"(B) Programs to train and maintain a cadre of individuals who are competent to provide counseling to individuals who submit such claims.
"(C) Programs to provide education and training to Department employees regarding their rights and obligations under the equal employment opportunity laws.
"(D) Programs to oversee the administration of the system.
"(E) Programs to evaluate the effectiveness of the system in meeting its objectives.
"(F) Other programs, procedures, or activities of the Department relating to the equal employment opportunity laws, including any alternative dispute resolution procedures and informal dispute resolution and settlement procedures.
"(G) Any disciplinary measures imposed by the Secretary on employees determined to have violated the equal employment opportunity laws in preventing or deterring violations of such laws by other employees of the Department."