Organize and plan your defense against EEOC complaints for maximum effect

First, think about the size of the company
If you don’t meet the threshold number of employees, you should write to the EEOC and let them know that immediately. They may follow-up and ask for proof of the number of employees that you actually have but otherwise, they will typically dismiss this matter because they don’t have jurisdiction and I have done this successfully on a number of occasions, it worked, they don’t have jurisdiction to take that complaint.

Second, check the timeliness of the EEOC complaint.
You want to check to see if the EEOC complaint has been filed in a timely manner. If someone’s complaining about something that happened two or three years ago, that charge is too late. Remember, the alleged action must have occurred no more than 180 days or 300 days earlier. If you believe that this charge has been filed out of time, you want to let the agency know immediately in writing. You don’t want to just ignore if you think that they don’t have jurisdiction over you.

Third, look to see what the EEOC complaint specification is asking of your company.
When you look at a notice of the EEOC complaint, you’ll see that it has three boxes. One says, “No action is required on your part at this time”. One says, “Please submit a position statement.” And another says, “Please respond to the attached request for information.” For obvious reasons, the “no action required at this time” is best. Some HR people when they receive a no action form feel like they should call the EEOC just to check-in. That is a bad idea. That’s a sleeping dog, let it lie. There’s no reason to give the EEOC a call just to say hi.

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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