The request for information is a generalized list of questions authored under EEOC guidelines but separate from the position statement
EEOC guidelines for a request for information
A request for information, under EEOC guidelines, is typically a list of questions. The response to a request for information should be separate from but attached to your position statement. If possible, you want to try and narrow the scope of what is being requested.
EEOC guidelines allow for a standard list of questions or list of questions that has been tailored to the complaint. Often times, you will get this standard list depending on whether the charge alleges a discharge, a denial of promotion, a failure to hire or something else. These requests for information are issued in an information vacuum. The EEOC is going to have little or no knowledge about the nature of the company’s business.
Help the EEOC narrow the request
EEOC guidelines allow their investigators to work with you to narrow the scope of their request to what is truly relevant to the charge. If you get a huge laundry list of questions and some of them are just not relevant, you will be able to talk to the EEOC and say, “Gee, you know, here’s what I think you’re really getting at. This is what I’m willing to provide. Does this work?” You’ll be able to have that kind of interaction.
Often the agency is going to request specific kinds of information such as the names of employees disciplined or discharged for the same or similar reasons as the complainant.
Depending on the situation, you either may give that information or you may think it’s over broad and try to limit it.
If you do get questions that seek information that’s irrelevant, impermissible, unduly burdensome, then you should provide an objection to giving over that information. You should state the objection in writing clearly and completely ,using EEOC guidelines. What you want to do is cooperate reasonably with the agency and we want to have a record of that.
If you object to something, it may lead to a discussion with the EEOC on how their request can be modified so that it will be reasonable. It will also help you later if the company needs to defend its position, if the EEOC seeks court enforcement through a subpoena to obtain the information.
With the request for information, you’re focusing on the relevant time period and similarly situated employees. If it seems over broad to start with, think about what they’re really asking for, talk to the agency, try and make it a manageable list.
Establish a rapport
Try to establish a rapport with the agency staff and the investigator, always be professional, always be cordial. If you need extensions of time, the EEOC guidelines allow their offices to grant them. Ask for them but do it sparingly. You don’t want to be asking for an extension for every little thing. You may be able to negotiate their request for information once you determine what the agency is really looking for.
Edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar: “EEOC Charges: How to Prepare an Airtight Response and Avoid Costly Payouts” by Alyssa T. Senzel, Esq. on 2-7-2008
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