- Blog post
Your EEOC complaint defense starts with a good opening statement
Summarize your defense against the EEOC complaint in your opening statement
Opening statements start your EEOC complaint defense
Start with an opening statement. It’s typically a firm denial of the EEOC complaint and a brief summary of your company’s position.
This position statement responds to the charge of discrimination filed by, the name of the complainant, against the company, in which complainant alleges that he was discharged because of his, fill in the blank, whatever the protected category is. The company vehemently denies this charge, as explained in more detail below, the complainant was discharged because of, and then you’ll insert a brief summary. For example, excessive absenteeism over an extended period of time, repeated altercations with colleagues, whatever it is. The first paragraph is going to be a crunchy summary of what they’re going to be reading about your defense to the EEOC complaint.
Describe your business
Next thing you’re going to do is give a brief explanation of the company’s business. Remember that the agency is going to know little or nothing about your organization at this point. A short paragraph or two, explaining the nature of the business is going to set the stage for your later explanation of why the employment decision referred to in the EEOC complaint was very reasonable. For example, if the complainant was a driver, who was discharged for failing a drug test, you know, by first explaining the nature of the company’s shipping or delivery business and they types of vehicles used by the company drivers, you put the serious nature of the complainant’s violation in context.
If you describe the company that it’s a fairly new organization. There’s lots of reorganization and it’s a dynamic, fast paced environment. It gives them a flavor for what people are doing on a day-to-day basis. You also want to explain what the company’s EEO policies are, because you want the agency to understand that the company takes equal employment opportunity seriously and that they don’t tolerate employment discrimination or EEOC harassment.
Describe your Equal Opportunity Policies
Explain what the policies are that you have in place, if it’s appropriate, quote key provisions from the handbook. If the complainant did not make any internal complaints of discrimination, you want to emphasize that fact as a defense to the EEOC complaint by explaining the company’s procedures for making employees aware of the company policies. So, you get the handbook when you’re hired. You have to sign off on it every year. It’s on the internet. Whatever it is, you want to show this person knew how to complain and they didn’t.
If they signed an acknowledgment of receipt of the handbook, you may want to submit that as part of your EEOC complaint defense as well.
This sort of information is especially important when dealing with, say, a sexual harassment complaint, because a complainant’s failure to make an internal complaint and exhaust the internal procedures can be a key factor in avoiding liability for the company later on. If someone didn’t complain, you really want to bring that up in a position statement.
In the opening statement, you talked about the description of the company, the EEO policies, you want to talk a little bit about the complainant’s employment history with the company, and the non-discriminatory reasons for the employment actions that were taken.