The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was established by the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC is the enforcement agency for any issue dealing with employer/employee civil rights issues. The EEOC is often the first place an employee turns for legal recourse. An employee takes the initial step towards bringing a discrimination lawsuit against an employer by filing a charge with the EEOC or with the appropriate state agency.
So What Happens When Your Firm Receives An EEOC Notice?
What happens next is often confusing to businesses, and lack of response can have serious consequences in later lawsuits. It is important to note, that at this point the notice is not a claim that will litigated in court. However, we do recommend you contact and review your case with an experienced EEOC attorney. Many times claimants use the administrative hearing process as part of discovery before a suit is filed.
You will receive a notice of charge of discrimination from the EEOC along with a contact name. The charge will offer voluntary mediation.
You will be required to provide a written statement on your position of the facts as you understand them to be.
The EEOC has the right to request documents and may visit your facility or office. This is where you need legal counsel to assist you in understanding what you may and may not have to comply with.
After the investigation the EEOC will do one of two things:
Issue a determination on the merits that there is no case for discrimination. The claimant will be sent a Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter.
Issue a determination on the merits that there was a case for discrimination. Both parties will be invited to resolve the case through mediation. If this fails, the EEOC has the right to file a lawsuit in Federal Court.
How Does Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) Insurance Apply?
Employment Practice Liability Insurance (EPLI) usually covers the cost of defense, indemnity, and often administrative hearings and actions against the claims of the employee who allege their rights have been violated.
There are a number of things employers can do to reduce the probability of EEOC issues. Here are a few of the important actions to include in your employee relationships:
Once you have received a notice of a claim, contact your agent IMMEDIATELY. It is critical to put the insurance carrier on notice.
Create anti-discriminatory policies for your business.
Have a comprehensive employee handbook which outlines all employee practices.