Though it may not seem like it, even federal institutions do change. Because it happens so infrequently, however, people can be blindsided by it, to the detriment of any business they may have with the agency. Such is the case with the March 2016 changes in procedure at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Staying abreast of these changes may save your claim.
Sometimes, when an employee files a charge or complaint against their employer, the EEOC may ask for the employer’s side of things, in what is referred to as a position statement, so they may be able to more accurately assess both sides of the complaint. Until recently, the procedure for doing this was varied between district offices, with different requirements in place depending on locality. Factors such as the length of time allotted, the method of submission and other similar issues were left up to the heads of each district office, which led to inefficiency and difficulty in processing claims.
Before the rule change, if a charging party wanted to request a copy of the respondent employer’s position statement, they would have had to do so under the Freedom of Information Act, and could only do so if the charge related to the statement had already been decided or dropped. One of the major facets of the rule change deals with an increased level of transparency in dealing with these requests.
Standardizing The System
The rule changes went into effect in March 2016, and it changed both the content required in these position statements and the ability of the charging party to view them. Now, the charging party will be advised of their right to request a copy of their employer’s position statement at the time they file their charge. Also, after they receive it, they have 20 days during which they can craft an appropriate response, which the employer is not permitted to view. In essence, this grants the charging party a form of redirect testimony after an employer has had their say.
This can be difficult for employers to handle, primarily because if the EEOC decides not to investigate a complaint, they may give the charging party leave to bring suit. If you and your attorney do your due diligence, your reply to their position statement can effectively combat certain defenses they would otherwise use at trial. One thing to be aware of, however, is that employers are permitted to use confidential information in their position statement that does not have to be shared with the charging party. They may simply advise the EEOC that certain information is confidential and provide it to them in a separate statement. Thus, even if you are permitted to see your employer’s position statement, it may not get you the advantage you hope for.
Enlist A Legal Professional
EEOC claims can be difficult to win, and it is critical to understand the ins and outs of the process as well as the validity of your claim. Seeking the help of an experienced attorney can help make a difference. Attorney A. Christopher Potts and his Charleston employment law firm have been at the same location for years and are always ready to help you get through what can be a frightening ordeal. Contact us today at 843-577-5000 or use our website to set up a consultation.