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Equal Employment Opportunity

The Peace Corps is committed to providing equal opportunity to all employees, Volunteers, and applicants for employment and Volunteer service.

The Peace Corps’ success in embracing and leveraging the diversity of its employees and Volunteers is central to its goal of promoting a greater understanding of Americans throughout the world through the reflection of America's diversity. The Peace Corps invites you to join our agency as we continue to help fulfill the realization of a fully inclusive workplace where everyone's abilities and skills are appreciated.

Overview of the discrimination complaint process for employees

Peace Corps policy prohibits discrimination and harassment against employees and applicants for employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40 or over), disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, parental status, political affiliation, union membership, genetic information, or reprisal for history of participation in the equal employment opportunity (EEO) process, grievance procedure, or any authorized complaint procedure.

Claims of discriminatory treatment are handled through the Office of Civil Rights and Diversity (OCRD), in accordance with 29 C.F.R. § 1614, related laws, regulations, and agency policy.

The informal complaint process

If you are an employee or applicant for an agency job, and you believe you have been discriminated against and/or harassed, federal regulations require that agencies provide for the counseling of aggrieved employees and applicants and for the prompt, fair, and impartial processing of complaints of discrimination or harassment.

The informal complaint process provides an opportunity to resolve complaints through EEO counseling or through an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process. The ADR process is an informal, voluntary process for complaints to be resolved through mediation, prior to filing a formal complaint of discrimination. An employee or applicant who believes that the Peace Corps has discriminated against them on one of the bases listed above must contact OCRD within 45 calendar days of the date of the alleged incident. An EEO counselor will be assigned to conduct a limited inquiry and assist the parties in resolving the issues before a formal complaint is filed.

The EEO counselor has 30 calendar days to attempt resolution of a complaint. If the aggrieved party participates in ADR, the agency has 90 days to try and resolve the matter.

If the complaint is not settled during the Informal stage, then the employee may file a formal discrimination complaint with OCRD. The EEO counselor will hold a final interview with the individual during which they will receive a notice with instructions on how to file a formal discrimination complaint.

This final interview will take place within 30 calendar days from the date that the individual first contacted OCRD to request counseling, unless the individual participated in ADR or agreed to an extension of up to an additional 60 calendar days.

Formal complaints must be filed within 15 calendar days of the date that individuals receive notice from the EEO Counselor regarding how to do so.

The formal complaint process

If an allegation of discrimination is not resolved through EEO counseling or the ADR process at the informal stage, the aggrieved person has the right to file a formal complaint of discrimination. Formal complaints must be filed within 15 calendar days from the date that individuals receive the notice of right to file a discrimination complaint. The complaint must be in writing and signed by the complainant (the individual filing the formal complaint). The complaint must include enough information to determine the date of the alleged occurrence, and the person(s) alleged to have engaged in the discriminatory conduct.

Formal complaints should be filed with OCRD. The complaint may be delivered in person, submitted by mail, or email at [email protected] to the director of the Peace Corps’ Office of Civil Rights and Diversity.

The complaint is reviewed for compliance with procedural guidelines, such as timeliness, and to determine if the allegation(s) are within the purview of equal employment opportunity laws. If the complaint meets these requirements, the complainant is notified of the issues accepted for investigation, as well as their rights and responsibilities throughout the process. The complaint is then assigned to an independent EEO Investigator. The role of the investigator is to collect factual information concerning the issues in the complaint.

The assigned investigator will contact the complainant and identified witnesses to collect all relevant evidence, including affidavits. Once gathered, the information will be compiled into a report of investigation (ROI) which serves as the evidence file in the case.

In accordance with 29 C.F.R. § 1614, the Peace Corps must complete the investigation into the accepted claim(s) within 180 calendar days from the date on which the individual complaint was filed. This time may be extended by up to an additional 90 calendar days if a) the individual and the agency voluntarily agree, in writing, to an extension, or b) if a complaint has been amended. When the investigation is complete, the complainant will be provided with a copy of the ROI and notified of their right to request a final agency decision or a hearing in front of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). OCRD will provide the complainant with the information necessary to exercise their rights.

Overview of the discrimination complaint procedure for applicants, Trainees, current Volunteers, and Returned Volunteers

The Peace Corps provides equal opportunity for all persons and prohibits discrimination against current Volunteers, applicants, Trainees and Returned Volunteers based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40 or over), disability, history of participation in the Peace Corps' discrimination complaint process, and other bases provided for in applicable statutes, regulations or the Peace Corps Manual.

Pre-complaint procedure

The pre-complaint procedure is intended to determine whether the concerns of the aggrieved party can be resolved without the filing of a formal complaint.

Any applicant, Trainee or Volunteer who believes that they have been subject to prohibited discrimination must bring such allegations to the attention of OCRD within 60 calendar days of the alleged discrimination.

A counselor will be assigned to attempt to resolve the issues related to the alleged discrimination. The counselor serves as a neutral party to gather a limited amount of information from the aggrieved person regarding their allegations. The counselor explains their rights, and where appropriate, attempts an informal resolution of the claims within 30 calendar days of the initial complaint. The counselor will keep a written record of their activities, which will be submitted to the OCRD Director as a counselor’s report.

As an alternative to assignment of a counselor as described above, the aggrieved party may ask for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as set out in the Peace Corps’ policy. The parties have 90 days to attempt to reach an informal resolution of the allegation. At any time during ADR process, the aggrieved party or the responsible management official (or their supervisor), in consultation with the Office of the General Counsel, may terminate those proceedings.

If an informal resolution to the allegation is not reached, the counselor will notify the aggrieved party, in writing, of the right to file a formal complaint of discrimination with the OCRD director within 30 calendar days of the aggrieved party’s receipt of the notice.

The formal complaint procedure

An applicant, Trainee or Volunteer who wishes to file a formal complaint must do so within 30 calendar days of receiving notice of their right to do so, by filing a signed complaint in writing with OCRD. A complaint must contain a detailed description of the alleged discriminatory conduct including dates of the occurrence, names of Peace Corps officials or other persons involved, how the complainant was affected, and the relief sought.

Upon acceptance of the complaint and receipt of the counselor’s report, the OCRD director will provide for a prompt impartial investigation of the complaint. The OCRD may employ a Peace Corps employee or external party to conduct the investigation. If a Peace Corps employee is selected to investigate the complaint, the person assigned to investigate the complaint may not occupy a position in the agency which is, directly or indirectly, under the jurisdiction of the head of that part of the agency in which the complaint arose.

The investigation will include a review of the circumstances under which the alleged discrimination occurred, and any other circumstances which may constitute, or appear to constitute, discrimination against the complainant.

The investigator will compile a report of investigation (ROI) and forward the ROI to the OCRD director. The OCRD director will arrange for preparation of a proposed FAD, which will be in writing, state the reasons underlying the decision, and recommend corrective action if appropriate.

The investigation will be completed, and the proposed final decision will be issued within 120 days of the filing of the complaint, to the extent feasible. However, the OCRD director has discretion to extend the period.

The OCRD director will issue the proposed FAD to the complainant with a copy of the ROI. The complainant has a right to appeal the proposed FAD to the Peace Corps’ director (or their designee) within 10 calendar days after receiving notification. If a complainant does not submit a timely appeal, the OCRD director will issue the proposed FAD as the final agency decision.

If the complainant files an appeal of the proposed FAD, the Peace Corps’ director (or designee), will, to the extent feasible, decide the issue within 45 days of the date of receipt of the appeal.

The complainant will be informed of the decision in writing. The Peace Corps director’s decision on the appeal will be the FAD regarding the complaint.

Please see Peace Corp Manual Section 293 [PDF] for the complete complaint procedure.

For additional information regarding the discrimination complaint process, send an email to [email protected] or write to us at:

Peace Corps
Office of Civil Rights and Diversity
1275 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20526