Stop the EEOC charge process before it starts
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Stop the EEOC charge process before it starts

Training and internal resolution help to stop EEOC charges

The EEOC charge process is going to issue some kind of findings. There are a 3 options to end an EEOC charge. There is a cause-finding, a no-cause finding and a right-to-sue letter or an administrative type dismissal.

Cause finding in an EEOC charge
A cause-finding is – that only happens in approximately 2.5% to 4% of cases where they say, “There’s cause for this EEOC charge.” Generally what happens is they invite the parties to enter into conciliation discussions, which are “How can we resolve this?” like settlement discussions. If those are unsuccessful, then a lawsuit can be brought either by the EEOC or by the complaining party. A cause finding happens in only in 2.5% to 4% of the cases.

No cause finding
Most of the EEOC charges end with no-cause finding and a right-to-sue letter. In that case, the complainant gets a letter informing him or her of the right to sue in federal court within 90 days of receipt of the letter. So, they’ve got 90 days to file suit in federal court except for the Equal Pay Act where they have two years.

Administrative dismissals to an EEOC charge
Other dismissals may be administrative, some the EEOC has no jurisdiction; the company doesn’t have enough employees for example, or it’s a sexual orientation claim and it’s not covered by Title VII, the complainant files a complaint and vanishes and the EEOC charges can’t be pursued. These are just a few examples

In the dismissal and notice of rights, the right-to-sue letter, it’s called an EEOC Form 161 and it will explain the reasons that the EEOC is closing its file. It has various boxes on it that say, “The facts alleged in this charge failed to state a claim under any of the statutes enforced by the EEOC.”

The box that is frequently checked is this one. It says, “The EEOC issues the following determination. Based upon its investigation, the EEOC is unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violation of the statute. This does not certify that the respondent is in compliance with the statute. No finding is made as to any other issues that might be construed as having been raised by this charge.” A box is checked and then, you get your notice of suit rights

How do you avoid an EEOC charge in the first place?
Well, for one thing, you want to have an internal dispute resolution process. Not only do you want to have one, you want people to know about it and to use it. The longer you can keep disputes in-house and have employees satisfied with how they’re resolved, the less likely they’re going to turn outside to the EEOC or the state agency.

Manager training helps avoid EEOC charges
You want to provide training to your managers so they know how to treat employees, they know what their legal obligations are, they know where to go for assistance if they see some improper behavior going on or if they hit a roadblock with some other employee.

Train your employees how to treat each other, how to raise concerns, how to follow your company policies. Doing that will help you move towards getting fewer and fewer EEOC charges in the first place and being better able to respond to them when you do get them.

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 8-5-08

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