EEOC Charges Are Coming to Your In-Box!!!
Employers, take note: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has initiated the roll-out of its electronic compliance program, the first step in moving toward an all-digital system of filing charges with the agency. The “ACT Digital” pilot program began last year in 11 of the agency’s field offices. Gone will be the scary envelope with the EEOC return address arriving in your daily mail. It will be replaced with an ominous e-mail message from the EEOC containing the Charge details.
Employers will receive an e-mail notifying them that a charge has been filed containing a link to an online portal. Once logged in to the secure portal, an employer can view and download the charge, submit representation information and position statements, review and respond to the invitation to mediate, and otherwise communicate with the EEOC.
Barring budget cuts, the agency intends for all field offices to be participating in the ACT Digital program very soon. Many large employers who have dealt with the EEOC in the past are already on record as having provided an e-mail contact point. For small to mid-size employers, you can rest assured that the employee you recently let go and who has filed a Charge of discrimination, has or will shortly provide the EEOC with a contact e-mail address. Failing that, the EEOC is likely to look up your e-mail contact information through your website. And finally, if all else fails, you may receive a call directly from the EEOC requesting a contact e-mail for purposes of processing a Charge. Employers should ensure that the agency has the correct e-mail address for the company’s EEOC representative and that the representative is ready to respond to any e-mails from the Commission.
Instead, the Commission will send the employer’s designated EEOC representative an email notification that a charge has been filed. The e-mail will include a link to the agency’s secure online portal. Once logged in, the employer can learn about the charge and respond.
For those employers that have not supplied an e-mail address for the designated EEOC representative, the agency will mail a paper notice to inform the company of the charge along with instructions for logging in to the portal.
The portal offers employers the opportunity to view and download the charge, provide information about representation, submit position statements, update the designated contact information or provide other information about the company, review and respond to the invitation to mediate, and communicate with the EEOC.
As of now, employers do have the choice to opt out of the online charge program and continue to receive and submit all documents and communications in paper form. However, it is unclear how long that option will exist.
Why the change? The agency is striving for compliance with Executive Order 13571, “Streaming Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service,” which mandated that federal agencies improve customer experience by expanding online services, among other requirements. The receipt of a Charge of Discrimination by any employer is no cause to celebrate and I am at a loss to figure out how getting notice of a Charge by electronic means as opposed to paper will improve customer service. But then again, I’m not in government!
The EEOC receives about 90,000 charges per year. So beware! Your in-box may contain more than garden variety spam.
With over 30 years’ experience in advising employers and employees on workplace issues and estate plans, let Boznos Law work with you to ensure you are ready to meet the challenges posed by the discrimination statutes and the agencies responsible for their enforcement. Call Bill Boznos today at (630) 375-1958 or contact us at www.boznoslawoffice.com/contact-us through our website at www.boznoslawoffice.com