April 5th, 2016

New EEOC Procedures for Discrimination Investigations

During an investigation of an employment discrimination charge, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) may request a position statement and other documents from the employer which support its defense. A position statement serves as the employer’s opportunity to persuade the EEOC to dismiss the employee’s charge of discrimination, and assists the EEOC to accelerate its investigation and tailor its requests for additional information to the employer.

Historically, the EEOC never mandated a uniform practice for the disclosure of employers’ position statements to employees, causing this practice to be left to the discretion of the various field offices and investigators involved with investigating an employee’s charge. However, the EEOC recently implemented nationwide procedures that approves the release of an employer’s position statement and non-confidential attachments to an employee, upon request during the investigation of the employee’s charge of discrimination. The EEOC’s new procedures apply to all position statements submitted to the EEOC on or after January 1, 2016.

In an effort to assist employers through this new process, the EEOC has includes guidelines in the form of a Q&A on its website. Under the EEOC’s new procedures, the following information is confidential, and not subject to disclosure to an employee: (1) sensitive medical information (except for the employee’s medical information); (2) social security numbers; (3) confidential commercial or confidential financial information; (4) trade secrets information; (5) non-relevant personally identifiable information of witnesses, comparators or third parties, for example, dates of birth in non-age cases, social security numbers, home addresses, personal phone numbers, personal email addresses, etc.; and (6) any reference to charges filed against the employer by other employees.

Under the EEOC’s new procedures, an employee will be afforded 20 days to respond to the employer’s position statement; however, the employee’s response will not be provided to the employer while the employee’s charge is being investigated. In light of the EEOC’s new procedures, employers should be mindful of the information which is contained within their position statements, and provide only the information necessary to respond to the employee’s charge of discrimination.

The content found in this resource is for informational reference use only and is not considered legal advice. Laws at all levels of government change frequently and the information found here may be or become outdated. It is recommended to consult your attorney for the most up-to-date information regarding current laws and legal matters.