The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (“EEOC”) circulated an announcement today informing that the Commission will commence issuing charge closure documents. On March 21, 2020, the EEOC suspended the issuance of charge closure documents unless a charging party requested them. On August 3, 2020, the EEOC commenced the issuance of these documents.
Briefly, Complainants (employees) must first file a complaint against their employer with the EEOC and/or the applicable state agency. This blog applies only to the procedure before the EEOC. Complainants (employees) must first exhaust their administrative remedies before filing a claim in federal court. In other words, in most cases employees cannot just sue their employer in federal court. They must first file a Complaint with the EEOC. A Complainant can request a Right to Sue Letter from the Commission that give the Complainant the green light to sue in federal court. Right to Sue Letters are issued a few ways:
- The Complainant (employee) can make a request in writing to the Commission for the Right to Sue Letter, “at any time after the expiration of  days from the date of filing the charge with the Commission.”
- The Commission can issue a Right to Sue Letter after (1) it found reasonable cause for a violation of the federal law, (2) it was unable to obtain voluntary compliance with the Respondent, and the Commission has decided not to pursue a civil against the employer.
- The Commission also issues a Right to Sue Letter when it has made a finding when it dismisses a charge.
After the Right to Sue Letter is issued, the Complainant (employee) has 90 days to file a cause of action in federal court.
The EEOC announced that it will, “begin issuing Notices of Right to Sue (Notices) bot for charges that were held in suspense, as well as for charge resolutions that occur on and after Monday, August 3, 2020. The Notices held in suspense will be issued over the course of the next six to eight weeks beginning with those that have been in suspense the longest.” True to government form, these notices will be sent out by mail.
As we all settle into the new normal of COVID, we are seeing that agencies are resuming their practices. If employers had pre-covid claims before the EEOC, they must be on the lookout for Right to Sue Letters coming from the EEOC. Employers should consult with counsel when faced with a Right to Sue Letter.
(NOTE: There are some exceptions to this requirement. Employees who are suing their employer for claims based on the Equal Pay Act and Age Discrimination in Employment Act do not need to wait the requisite 180 days as described above. Employers faced with EPA and ADEA claim should consult with counsel to confirm the correct procedure was followed.)
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