Your objective is to keep the EEOC investigation focused on the issue

At the agency’s discretion
An onsite EEOC investigation can be conducted at the agency’s discretion. Such an investigation normally includes the EEOC coming to review files, interview witnesses and make a physical inspection of the workplace.

Onsite EEOC investigations can be trigged:if the EEOC wants to do this quickly, if they’ve had bad experiences with the company in the past, if they’re afraid of evidence being destroyed, if they need to see the workplace based on some charge that’s being made. That’s when they may choose to do it.

Reduce your chances
If any EEOC investigator does indicate that he or she wants to interview certain employees, it’s wise for you to offer that you’ll make those employees available for the EEOC investigation at the EEOC office.

This will reduce the chance, if they’re not in your office, obviously, that the EEOC investigation staff are going to talk to other employees who have not been identified but who might have general other complaints.

If the witnesses they want to talk to, again, are supervisory and management level employees, the employer does have the right to have counsel present during the interview. If they’re not, then they don’t. Although they’re are situations where they have wanted to talk to some non-managerial employees, and counsel has asked to listen in? And they said, sure. So, you know, it’s worth a try.

Prior to any on site EEOC investigations
Request in writing that the EEOC lets you know what documents it would like to review and identify what witnesses it would like to speak with.

This will allow you to prepare the necessary information in advance, to meet with the witnesses to explain what’s going to happen and if there are just a few documents they want, you might want to just send them if they’re not already attached to the position statements so that you resolve that matter without them coming to chat.

The general goal in dealing with an on site EEOC investigation is to prevent the EEOC investigator from conducting a fishing expedition. You want to keep it focused on what the issue is.

A couple of additional things to remember, if they’re coming in, you want to make sure that you’ve got all your required EEOC, Department of Labor and other postings and that they are properly updated, because that’s something they’ll take a look at as well.

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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