Norman Estrada, the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer at White Sands Missile Range, said he likes his job because he works in a field that is always changing.
“This is a unique job, a job that you really have to love to do it. It’s interesting work,” Estrada said. “We keep up with executive orders and review decisions on other EEO complaints.”
Estrada’s duties include advising commanders, directors, and the deputy on EEO issues. He also supervises and trains his staff providing the 24 hours of training required every fiscal year.
Estrada began his career at the Sierra Army Depot in California after receiving a business degree from the University of Texas at El Paso. He worked as a collateral duty counselor, working 20 percent of normal duty time with the EEO program, and as the Hispanic Collateral Duty Employee Program manager.
After working in California, Estrada headed to Germany where he worked as an EEO specialist for 10 years. His career eventually brought him back home to the Southern New Mexico area after working at the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.
Estrada began working as the EEO Officer at WSMR over three years ago. Overall, he has 16 years of experience as an officer.
Estrada said that throughout the years he has learned that no case is ever the same.
“When someone comes in to make a complaint it’s always a little different,” Estrada said. “I’m glad that we have this process so an individual can have their due process if they have been discriminated against. Maybe that wrong can be corrected.”
The mission of the EEO program is to eliminate unlawful employment discrimination. The office handles complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment. Currently there are six collateral duty counselors who help research complaints.
“We are here to process complaints of discrimination. If you feel that you have been discriminated against, you have the right to file a complaint,” said Estrada. “It’s our job to be a liaison between the employee and management and also help the employee progress in their career.”
Complaints can be filed on the following nine basis: race, reprisal, national origin, age, sex, religion, color, disability (physical or mental), or genetic information.
The EEO Office also participates in community outreach activities. The staff will inform students at the University of Texas at El Paso and New Mexico State University of job opportunities at WSMR during the next scheduled outreach in September.
“We have a lot of people retiring. The baby boomers are retiring and if we don’t do outreach, we won’t have replacements. We need to do a better job at hiring our replacements that way when we retire there’s someone there that we have been able to mentor to take over when we are not here anymore,” Estrada said.