Protect yourself from an EEOC charge

by on May 12, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

EEOC cases can hinge on knowledge of the EEOC laws and proper records retention

EEOC charges can be negated if you don’t meet the EEOC guidelines for charges

Your company receives EEOC charges and you only have ten employees. Do you respond? Will it make a difference if the charge is from the state agency not the EEOC?

The answers are of course: Yes, you respond to the EEOC charges. And yes, it would make a difference. You respond because even though you’re too small to be covered by title VII, the ADA or the ADEA, it still makes sense to respond to the EEOC charges because they don’t know that. So you call them and you write to them. They may ask you for follow up but ultimately that should make the matter go away.

If it’s a state agency, your state law would cover perhaps employers that have four employees as opposed to 15. So, if you’ve got ten, you may be covered by your state law. You’d have to check your state EEOC laws to make sure that you are complying there as well.

Proper record retention helps defeat EEOC charges

Your company receives EEOC charges from an applicant claiming he was discriminated against based on religion. You have no record of interviewing this applicant. How do you respond?

You don’t ignore the EEOC charges. You don’t just say, “Well, we don’t know who this person is so we can’t do anything.” You figure out, “Okay, do you really have no record or it was just your first look that made it clear that you had no record.”

And really if you look through every record you have, you talked to all your recruiters. You talked to all the managers who possibly could have interviewed this person. No one knows who it is. No one has any record of it. You don’t have that person’s resume, then you write that down. You might call the EEOC and say, “Hey, we’re a little bit puzzled. We don’t have any record of this person. We’re going to be sending a statement of that.” But you do want to have it in writing that you don’t know who this person is and you never interviewed them.

The unreasonable request for information as part of the EEOC charges

You receive a request for information. That’s the RFI that asks for names, addresses, telephone numbers and ages of the entire finance department.

Do you provide that information?

You’re obviously concerned about providing that information because it’s not asking for company address and phone number. It’s asking for you think home address and phone number. Let’s say the charging party is somebody in your accounts payable department.

You may want to start by limiting it to the accounts payable department. Say, you know, our finance department has 40 people in it, accounts payable has ten, that’s really who you’re looking for. So, we’ll give you the names of those ten people. You may start by giving names and work phone numbers of those people and see if that will do the trick. I mean this is the situation where you want to try and narrow your response. And you might even call the EEOC and say, “Hey, you know, this is what I’m proposing to give. Does that make sense? Here’s why I think it does.”

If they really, really are disputing you on that, then you’ll decide if you’re comfortable providing names, addresses, and phone numbers. But you would probably object that it was over broad and unduly burdensome depending on how large the department was. You want to try and strike a happy medium there.

Edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar: “In EEOC’s Crosshairs? How to Prepare an Airtight Response and Avoid Costly Payouts” by Alyssa T. Senzel on February 04, 2009

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