Executive Summary: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced a pilot program for online submissions in response to a Notice of Charge. The online system will allow employers (or their legal representatives) to elect mediation, request extensions of time, and file position statements. Select regions will begin the pilot program on May 4, 2015, and the agency plans on rolling out the program nationally by October 2015.
The agency is beginning the rollout next month in the Charlotte, North Carolina and San Francisco, California District Offices. As of May 4, all Notices of Charges in those two regions will be sent via U.S. mail in a new form, which looks very different from the usual Notice of Charge. The Notice will inform the employer that the Field Office is part of a pilot project to make investigations and communications more efficient. It will also provide a login URL, an EEOC charge number, and a password. At that point, the employer or its legal representative can access the charge.
It is important to note that this document will be the only notification an employer will receive regarding the charge. Employers will have to log on to receive a copy of the actual charge and the due dates for election of mediation and the Statement of Position. Employers also have the option of opting out of the pilot program and receiving all documents in paper form.
The EEOC has not yet verified the confidentiality and security of these submissions. The new Notice provides the login and password, meaning that anyone who has access to the Notice will be able to log on and access potentially confidential information. Hopefully, this is something the agency will have addressed by the time it begins the pilot program.
The Bottom Line
If you receive a Notice of Charge of Discrimination from the EEOC indicating that you are part of the pilot program, immediately forward the Notice to your legal representative. Once the program begins, the employer or its representative will be required to log on to determine the requisite filing dates. The agency provides a short window in which to elect mediation or to file a Statement of Position, and employers do not want to risk missing an important deadline.