The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is seeking input from “individuals, employers, advocacy groups, agency stakeholders and other interested parties” on its Quality Control Plan (QCP) draft principles. The QCP’s purpose is to revise the standards used to assess the quality of the agency’s investigations and conciliations of discrimination complaints. In February 2012 the EEOC approved a more comprehensive Strategic Plan, which outlines the agency’s goals and achievement benchmarks for enforcing the various anti-discrimination laws under its jurisdiction, as well as its mission to carry out education and outreach efforts. Pursuant to this Strategic Plan, the EEOC is to develop and approve a QCP that will measure the agency’s performance in handling discrimination claims.

After an initial call earlier this year for written comments and consideration of suggestions during a public meeting on the QCP, the EEOC suggests that a “quality investigation” is one that involves the following steps:

  1. The Commission identifies the bases, issues, and relevant allegations of the alleged unlawful employment action in a charge.
  2. The Commission conducts an investigation consistent with its Priority Charge Handling Procedures (PCHP).
  3. The Commission applies the law to the facts to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe that unlawful employment discrimination has occurred.
  4. The Commission communicates with the Charging Party and the Respondent (or with their lawyers, if represented) to obtain sufficient information to make its determination.

The plan defines a quality conciliation as one in which:

  1. The Commission seeks targeted, equitable relief.
  2. The Commission informs the parties of the proposed categories of relief and how monetary terms were reached.
  3. The Commission responds appropriately to reasonable offers made by the parties.

The standard of review for assessing the quality of the EEOC’s investigations and conciliations will be “whether the actions taken were reasonable given the totality of the circumstances, including available resources.” The QCP will not assess the performance of any one investigator or other EEOC staff member. The agency emphasizes that the QCP will not establish a set investigation level for each charge, particularly given the different charge priority categories and resources available.

In addition, the EEOC explains that “the quality indicia set forth in the QCP are not to be confused with the statutory provisions set forth in Title VII, the ADEA, ADA, EPA, and GINA. Those federal statutes do not set out quality standards for individual investigations or conciliations.”

Comments on the draft principles for the QCP must be submitted by 5:00 pm EST on May 24, 2013 at strategic.plan@eeoc.gov or received by mail at Executive Officer, Office of the Executive Secretariat, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 131 M Street, NE, Washington, D.C. 20507.