James E. Martin is associate professor of management and industrial relations in the School of Business Administration at Wayne State University. The study was partially supported by grants from the Penrose Fund of the American Philosophical Society and the Office of Research and Sponsored Program Services, Wayne State University. The author would like to thank Lizabeth Barclay and Mark Kahn for their helpful comments.
Problems associated with processing equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaints have been the object of interest and concern since the passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Most of the literature in this area has focused on the private sector because of the large number of employees in that part of the workforce. This article examines the neglected area of EEO complaint processing in the federal service. It draws on data from a longitudinal multiple-case study of federal union-management relations to illustrate procedural problems and compares the differences between federal and private employment that affect EEO complaint processing. Proposed changes aimed at shifting EEO complaints to a union-management negotiated grievance procedure with the right of arbitration are also discussed.