I Received an EEOC Charge of Discrimination, Now What!?

By Andrew Randol - August 30, 2018 - Employment & Labor

You receive a “Notice of Charge of Discrimination” in the mail from the EEOC alleging that your company discriminated against one of your current or former employees. Virtually every company has been there; if yours hasn’t, stay tuned. In any given year, 80,000 to 90,000 EEOC complaints are filed. So, what are they? What does it mean? And what should you do when you get EEOC charge of discrimination?

All businesses employing fifteen or more people are subject to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate against a person on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, is the federal agency tasked with enforcing this law. The EEOC is empowered to investigate charges of discrimination and even bring suit on behalf of the complaining employee.

However, most employees file an EEOC charge in order to sue their employer in federal court on their own, rather than wait for the EEOC to do it. When an employee believes he or she has faced discrimination in some fashion, they must file a complaint with the EEOC before they can file a federal lawsuit against their employer. Once it receives a complaint, the EEOC will issue a Notice of Charge of Discrimination to the employer, providing the basis for the allegations. The EEOC will then require the employer to submit a position statement in response to the charge. Depending upon the response received, the EEOC may then submit a request for addition evidence, or more likely, simply choose not to investigate. However, this does not mean that the position statement shouldn’t be taken seriously. The position statement will become available to the employee upon request, who will gladly pass it along to their employment attorney in Columbus, Ohio.

Once the EEOC decides not to investigate a claim, it will issue a Notice of Right to Sue letter to the complaining employee. At this point, the employee is permitted to file a lawsuit in federal court. This is where the importance of the position statement comes in; the employee’s attorney will be salivating for your response to the lawsuit, hoping that it does not jive with the details in your position statement. Any change in the employer’s story will leave it vulnerable to a claim that its reason for the alleged discriminatory action is a pretext for discrimination.

To answer the question posed by the title of this article, when you receive an EEOC Charge, call a competent Columbus labor lawyer. The matter must be taken seriously and properly investigated before a response is given to the EEOC. An insufficient or incomplete position statement is often submitted because the employer did not know all of the facts at the time of writing the response, thus leading to an altered response later on when a lawsuit is filed. Any inconsistency in the employer’s responses will be exploited by the employee and counsel to try and demonstrate that the employer is lying about some of the background details.

All prudent employers have competent Columbus employment attorneys on standby. Our employment attorneys can walk employers through the process of responding to an EEOC complaint and subsequent lawsuit, ensuring that they do not make any innocent missteps that could cost them thousands.

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