Always respond to an EEOC charge even if you don't have to.

by on May 20, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Create a record of reasonable responses to your EEOC charge

Your company receives an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge and you only have 10 employees, Do you respond? Would it make any difference if the charge were from the state agency not the EEOC?

You should always respond. Even if you think you’re not covered, you definitely want to respond. In this case, you would write a letter back if it’s the EEOC saying, hey, you know, we only have 10 employees. We’re not covered by any of the federal statutes, assuming it’s not an Equal Pay Act claim. That should resolve the matter. Again, you don’t want to just ignore it and hope for the best.

Would it make any difference if the EEOC charge were from the state agency, not the federal EEOC?

It does because state human rights laws often have lower threshold. Sometimes you just have to have one employee, four employees, so 10 employees may actually get you covered by the state law even though you’re not covered by the federal law.

Your company receives an EEOC charge from an applicant claiming that he was discriminated against based on religion. You have no record of ever interviewing this applicant, how do you respond?

Make sure that nobody interviewed this applicant. Just because recruiting or HR doesn’t have a record, doesn’t mean that somebody didn’t set up some interview that you didn’t know about. So, you really want to do some digging to satisfy yourself that this guy never came in.

But assuming this applicant was never interviewed, again, you want to write back to the EEOC and call them if you’d like and then follow up with a letter saying, hey, we got this EEOC charge, we’re not sure what the situation is here, but we have no record of ever interviewing this person. We don’t know how to – we can’t respond- to your charge and I think by talking to the investigator and then following up with a letter, you will be able to resolve that promptly.

You receive a request for information for the names, addresses, telephone numbers and ages of your entire sales department; do you provide the information?

This goes back to what we were talking about before in terms of wanting to answer the question related to the EEOC charge, but not wanting to provide information in such a broad way that it’s irrelevant, unduly burdensome. You also don’t want to be giving lots of personal information about your employees.

Provide information about a subset. If the person who was denied the promotion was in international sales, I would start by giving the information just about the international sales department and would indicate that the question is over broad and invades the privacy of the individuals. You want to be responsive to the extent that it’s appropriate.

If the EEOC needs more information, they can come back and ask you. But you should say, we’re providing international sales department information, because you don’t want them to think you answered the question fully if you didn’t.

These are the edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar “EEOC Charges: How to Prepare an Airtight Response and Avoid Costly Payouts” by Alyssa Senzel, Esq. on Feb. 14, 2007

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