A look at the EEOC’s investigative process

An employee who believes that you have violated his or her rights may file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC then decides whether to dismiss the complaint or accept it.

If it decides to accept the claim, the EEOC will then conduct its own non-adversarial investigation into the claims your employee has made in the complaint. The expectation is that you will cooperate with the investigation. So that you understand what you can expect, here are answers to questions you may have about the investigation process.

1. What sort of complaints does the EEOC investigate?

The EEOC may choose to investigate claims against your company related to allegations of retaliation, discrimination or harassment, to cite a few examples. If the EEOC decides to investigate such a complaint, you will receive notification of the charge levied against your business.

2. How long does the EEOC have to investigate the complaint?

Upon receiving the initial complaint, the EEOC has 180 days from the date of filing to complete the investigation. However, if the complaint becomes consolidated with another or otherwise amended, the EEOC must complete its investigation within 360 days of the original filing or 180 days of the latest filing, whichever is earlier.

3. What happens during the investigation?

There are a number of investigative methods at the EEOC’s disposal to look into the matter. You may receive a request for information, to which you have to make an appropriate response. You may have to submit a Statement of Position presenting your side of the story. You may also have to participate in a fact-finding conference or a one-on-one interview with representatives of the EEOC and help arrange witness interviews with employees.

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