Formed on July 2, 1965, to administer and enforce civil rights laws against workplace discrimination, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates discrimination complaints involving harassment in the work environment.
If you are an employer in Florida and received an EEOC complaint, it is crucial to stay calm and handle the situation carefully. In this article, you will find out how to answer to an EEOC complaint in Florida.
Answering an EEOC Complaint in Florida – Explaining the Basics
In the United States, the EEOC is responsible for investigating discrimination complaints based on an employee’s:
- National origin
- Sex (including pregnancy)
- Age (individuals 40 years of age or older)
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Genetic information
Also, the EEOC investigates complaints involving retaliation against employees for reporting, participating in, and/or opposing a discriminatory practice. When someone files a discrimination complaint against an employer in Florida, the employer will receive notice within 10 days.
In this context, it is fundamental to understand that a charge of discrimination is merely an allegation of misconduct. Hence, the charge itself does not constitute evidence that a company engaged in discriminatory behavior.
In most cases, the best way to resolve a discrimination charge usually involves mediation or settlement, which are both voluntary resolutions. Hence, employers charged with an EEOC complaint must seek legal guidance from an expert lawyer immediately.
How to Answer to an EEOC Complaint in Florida – Understanding the Process
Nevertheless, if an employer decides to waive mediation, the process can take months to resolve a charge through the EEOC. In this context, the law entitles the federal agency to all information relevant to the case.
Accordingly, an employer involved in an EEOC complaint in Florida must keep all relevant documentation and communicate any existing concerns with the responsible EEOC investigator.
Also, if you believe the EEOC requested information considered confidential or proprietary information that is not relevant to the case (e.g., trade secrets), in most cases the agency can modify the request to ensure the company’s confidentiality.
Typically, the EEOC took an average of 10 months to investigate and resolve a discrimination complaint in Florida. Nonetheless, there is no pre-determined deadline for the investigation process.
Also, notice that employers may object to EEOC requests for information, as long as such objections have the proper legal ground(s). However, be aware that the law entitles the EEOC to all information relevant to the case, and the agency has the authority to subpoena such information (if necessary).
How to Answer to an EEOC Complaint in Florida – Submitting the Necessary Information
Throughout the investigation, the EEOC will ask both the employer and the charging party to provide information relevant to the case.
Accordingly, the investigator appointed by the EEOC will assess the submitted information before determining whether there is a reasonable discrimination claim or not.
In such cases, employers responding to an EEOC charge of discrimination are encouraged to present any evidence that demonstrates the allegations are incorrect or do not constitute a violation of the law.
First, the employer must submit a statement of position. Here, the employer can tell its side of the story and demonstrate the claims do not correspond with the actual facts. At this phase, it is crucial to work with an experienced attorney to assist you during the process.
Then, the employer must respond to a Request for Information (RFI). Typically, the RFI will ask the employer to submit relevant information such as personnel policies, personal files, including the charging party’s files, and other information related to the case.
It is crucial to note that sometimes the RFI does not consider all the facts relevant to the allegations. In such cases, it is fundamental to work with an expert attorney to raise appropriate objections.
Also, the EEOC may request the employer to permit an on-site visit and provide personal contact information for employees. At this phase, the EEOC may also request the company to have employees available for witness interviews conducted by the appointed investigator.
In such situations, the employer may have a representative present during the interviews involving management personnel.
Nevertheless, regulations provide that an EEOC investigator can conduct interviews of non-management personnel without the presence or permission of the employer.
Have You Been Served with an EEOC Complaint in Florida? – We Can Help You Immediately
Responding to an EEOC complaint requires a strategic approach. At Jurado and Farshchian, P.L. we have experienced attorneys to help you resolve such issues and avoid wasting time and money.