United States: The EEOC Goes Electronic: FAQs On EEOC's New Electronic Pilot Program

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently rolled out a pilot program to electronically notify employers of new Charges filed against them. Instead of mailing the Notice of Charge of Discrimination form through conventional means, the EEOC is rolling out a new system that will notify an employer of a pending charge and allow an employer to respond to the Charge through an online portal.

This new system is catching a lot of employers by surprise, and has resulted in many questions. Fisher & Phillips has developed a list of Frequently Asked Questions to aid employers in understanding this new pilot program.

What is this new system?

The EEOC is piloting a new electronic system involving an online portal called ACT Digital. If a new Charge of Discrimination is filed against you, the EEOC will email you notice of the new Charge and invite you to download a copy through the portal.

Phase I of the project only allows employers a channel of communication with the EEOC about the Charge. Charging Parties are not yet allowed electronic access. In this first phase, upon consenting to certain terms and conditions, you are able to:

  • view and download the Charge;
  • review an invitation to mediate and respond accordingly;
  • submit a Position Statement to the EEOC; and
  • provide or verify company contact information, including the designation of a legal representative.

The EEOC has indicated that employers will also be able to use ACT Digital to communicate with the EEOC regarding extensions, inquiries, and other Charge-related issues. It seems this option may already be operational in some EEOC offices.

Where is the EEOC implementing ACT Digital?

The EEOC is rolling out ACT Digital in waves. The first wave began in early May 2015 and included EEOC offices in San Francisco and Charlotte. Earlier this summer, the EEOC released the program in a second wave of offices, which included Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Phoenix. The EEOC's goal is to implement ACT Digital in all of its 53 offices by October 2015.

How will we first receive notice?

The EEOC will send an email containing a Charge notification to an employer's representative. The EEOC might obtain this email address from the Charging Party, or may obtain it from past email communications with those businesses already in the EEOC's system.

Note that this could result in a manager or supervisor receiving notice of a Charge outside his or her own department or area. We are still checking to see if the EEOC will allow employers to proactively designate an email address where all notices to the company should be sent.

Must employers use this system?

This is the most common question we've received so far. The short answer is no – for now. Employers are currently not required to use ACT Digital during the pilot period of implementation. Note that if you do respond to the initial email, you may be creating an obligation to use the system going forward, thereby limiting your position with regard to how the Charge is handled.

However, the EEOC is transitioning to an entirely electronic format and, as a practical matter, all employers will likely be required to use this electronic system in the future.

What if the notification email is blocked by a firewall or spam folder?

The EEOC's notification procedure includes some "fail-safes" to ensure you do not miss notifications of pending Charges. For example, the EEOC may send a hard copy of the Charge if the online portal is not accessed by the employer within approximately 10 days after the notice email is sent.

Can the Charge be viewed by the public?

No, with one exception. Each Charge has a unique portal access that you will use for the life of the case. Therefore, only people with access through the unique portal address will be able to access ACT Digital to view the Charge and your Position Statement. At this time, even the Charging Party does not have access to the online portal.

The one exception – which has always been the case – is that the public may request Charge files under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The EEOC has stated that it will continue to follow its current protocols and federal regulations in responding to FOIA requests (which typically do not allow for access to the Charge while the matter is pending).

Similarly, the unique portals will close after a period of time. We do not know for sure, but it is believed the portals will be deactivated 90 to 100 days after the EEOC closes the file. Because the portals expire, you should download and retain all necessary files and documents related to the Charge if they use the electronic system.

Will state human affairs commissions use ACT Digital?

At this time, the EEOC has not indicated whether state human affairs commissions will be utilizing the ACT Digital system.

What will Phase II look like?

The EEOC has released very little information about Phase II and any speculation as to what is in the pipeline is just that – speculation. With that caveat, there are a few likely next moves.

We expect the EEOC will open the portal to Charging Parties so they may file and monitor their Charges online. It is unknown, however, whether the portals will be kept separate or combined. In the future, the EEOC may also maintain a database of the employer's prior Charges, as opposed to deactivating the portal.

What should we do immediately?

Because you could receive notice of a new Charge tomorrow, you should instruct all of your supervisors and managers today to immediately contact the HR department or in-house counsel if they get an email from the EEOC. Just as in the past you instructed them to forward on any hard copy EEOC Charge received in the mail, the same rule should apply for electronic notices.

You should take it one step further in this digital age: counsel your managers not only to forward on EEOC emails to proper company channels without responding, but also to refrain from downloading the Charge or even clicking anywhere on the email.

Phase I of the ACT Digital rollout should not drastically affect how you respond to EEOC Charges. In fact, it might make communication with the EEOC easier. As additional phases are rolled out, however, this could change. Stay tuned for more updates.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
C.R. Wright
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Troutman Sanders LLP
Fisher Phillips LLP
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Troutman Sanders LLP
Fisher Phillips LLP
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions