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EEOC Enforcement

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EEOC Enforcement

  • Course: Employment Law 101
  • Module: Discrimination
  • Lesson Type: Video
  • Lesson Duration: 8:34

Lesson Content

We're gonna continue to talk about Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964, and in this section we're going to talk about the administrative procedure. The administrative agency that has the power to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including Title VII, is called the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, commonly known as the EEOC.

And the EEOC, essentially, can field complaints and there’s a charge process, in which individuals who believe they've been discriminated against have to file a charge of discrimination. And then there's an investigation period, and that's what we're going to talk about. In addition, I want it to be clear that individuals cannot circumvent this process. So, for instance, if Sally felt like she was discriminated against based upon her gender in the workplace, she couldn't hire a lawyer and go straight to court and file a complaint. If she were to do so then the defendant would merely have to file a motion dismiss because Sally failed to exhaust her administrative remedies, which means she essentially failed to go through the EEOC process.

Now, when a employee or an applicant files a complaint for discrimination, it's called a charge of discrimination. I'm going to discuss it in the, in the context of non-deferral states. So let me tell you what a deferral and the non deferral state are. If a state has a state agency that deals with state EEO law equal employment law, Ii other words we handle discrimination on the state level, and the state has a specific agency design for that, and not all states do, then frequently that state agency in the federal EEOC agency will create work sharing agreements in order to process complaints more efficiently and in the deferral states where they deferred to each other and they they organize it that way, there are longer time frames.

So I'm not going to talk about deferral or non-deferral beyond that little blurb. Ultimately, what we're gonna look at here is non-deferral because that's which is in Title VII and within the statute of Civil Rights Act. So under Title VII if a person wanted to file a charge of discrimination, they would need to file it within 180 days of the last act of discrimination. If they were to file it in 200 days from the last act of discrimination, it would essentially be time-barred and not be allowed to proceed. So it's important that if somebody is going to bring allegations of discrimination in the workplace, that they do so expediently. If they don't, they could lose the opportunity.

Also, if a person believes they were discriminated against and rather than going to the EEOC elects to file a complaint in court that would be a procedural mistake because the defendant, the employer, would merely need to file a motion to dismiss because that employee failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and what that means is they failed to go through the EEOC process.

I’d like to point out that after the charge is filed, then the employer is notified and usually there is a request for information. If the complainant, if the employee is agreeable, then there may be a request for the EEOC's mediation program. I have had situations where there was no request for the EEOC mediation program and as the employer, we asked the EEOC to go back and talk to the complainant about going through the mediation process and they agreed to that.

But, the bottom line is I want you to know that when the employer is notified Frequently in addition to requesting information the EEOC will put in a form where you can elect to go into mediation. If you go into mediation, you don't have to supply the information and the hope is that you will resolve the matter with the employee in mediation and the EEOC won't have to get involved.

If however mediation is unsuccessful then the matter goes back to the EEOC and they can then request the information. Usually the request for information is fairly extensive and it relates the allegations that the employee is charging and it's, his charging discrimination.

The EEOC has a 180 days to investigate the merits of the allegation and it will do so, perhaps, by just the request for information, frequently there are telephone calls, sometimes you have an EEO investigator coming to the operation and interviewing employees, whatever the case may be. Depending upon the facts. But after that 180 days, there has to be a determination and there is really only a couple of options on its determination. One is that the EEOC could say there is no cause and then if such were the case, there is no apparent cause for discrimination then the charge will be dismissed.

The only remedy beyond that, that the employee would have is an appeal but they could only appeal to the administrative agency of the EEOC. And so it's likely that if no cause is found then the matter will not proceed.

Alternatively, they could find that there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred or they could find that they were unable to determine whether discrimination occur. In either of these two situations, the individual would then have the opportunity to go into conciliation and or file a lawsuit.

Now, conciliation is a process that the EEOC has after an investigation and sometimes before lawsuits, where it basically makes a demand of the employer on what it will take to avoid the litigation. EEOC generally uses this in a very aggressive way to say unless you comply with all of these particular requirements and pay specific amounts of money, then we will sue you and we will put the force of the EEOC into the lawsuit, whether or not the employee does. So the EEOC frequently has taken on cases when the employee has elected not to go forward in litigation and the EEOC can do that under the statue.

These are types of remedies that happen with regards to discrimination claims. You could have a situation where there are money damages are ordered. Many times in discrimination cases, they can be very very high money amounts. Also injunctive relief, requiring the policy or the process or the discriminatory situation to be fixed and/or not to allow discrimination, if you will, to continue.

Attorney's fees and costs can be part of the remedies. Less frequently you see things like job connected losses or reinstatement. Sometimes you might find wages. Most of the time, you have a wage issue with regard to discrimination is brought out in a wage claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Mark Addington


Mark Addington

Mark A. Addington, Esq. advises and advocates on behalf of businesses concerning Labor & Employment Law, Business Regulatory Compliance, Restrictive Covenants (Non-Competition, Non-Solicitation, and Confidentiality), Wage & Hour, Privacy, Technology,...

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