You may try to be fair and to treat your employees with respect. This includes having an open mind during the hiring process and making important decisions based on an employee’s qualifications and merit. Nevertheless, if you have recently received a notice that a worker has filed a complaint against you with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you may be uncertain how to react.
The EEOC deals with complaints that an employer has violated a worker’s rights by some form of discrimination. This is not a complaint you can ignore. When a worker files a claim with the EEOC, it generally means he or she plans to proceed with a lawsuit. It is important that you know your rights and the best course of action for your situation.
What to do now?
The EEOC will notify you within 10 days of receiving a complaint from your employee. They are obligated to consider every claim, and you will want to be prepared to respond appropriately. Agents may encourage you to try to resolve the dispute through mediation or another form of settlement, or you may be facing an investigation during which your attorney may encourage you to cooperate in the following ways:
- Respond promptly with your statement of position, which is your version of the events your employee has told.
- Share relevant information when the EEOC requests it, including contact information for potential witnesses.
- Allow EEOC agents to visit your worksite.
- Demonstrate your willingness to assist in the investigation even if you feel insulted or betrayed by the charges.
- Avoid throwing away or destroying any documents that may be relevant to the case.
You may feel the information the EEOC requests is beyond the scope of the matter in question. You have the right to request a modification of this information, and your attorney can certainly be of help in protecting your rights. In fact, your attorney can guide you in responding to the accusations in an appropriate manner and ensuring the investigation does not violate your rights.
It is possible agents will determine no discrimination occurred, in which case, your accuser may still decide to file a lawsuit against you. If the EEOC does find reasonable evidence that you discriminated or allowed discriminatory practices to occur, you may be facing a long legal battle that could jeopardize your future and the future of your Iowa business. You may benefit from having a skilled attorney to aggressively advocate for you as soon as possible after learning of an EEOC complaint against you.