The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued proposed amendments to its rules for handling complaints by federal employees. The EEOC’s press release identifies changes that will allow federal agencies to implement pilot programs, and that would require agencies to follow EEOC regulations and directives. The pilot programs would, "grant agencies variances from particular provisions" of federal regulations. Another change would clarify that agencies could dismiss charges that proposed agency actions are retaliatory only if the proposed action is not itself materially adverse, that is, that it would dissuade a reasonable employee from engaging in protected activity. The proposed rule would require agencies to notify complainants when their complaints have been under investigation for over 180 days. At this point, the employee would have the right to request an EEOC administrative hearing (or file in federal court). The notification would have to inform employees of the option to request an EEOC hearing. The proposed regulation would also extend the time agencies have to comply with an EEOC order from 60 days to 120 days. Members of the public are invited to submit comments by February 19, 2010.