EEOC Proposes to Fix Its Broken System [Insert Snarky Comment Here]

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued proposed regulations for ways to improve how discrimination complaints are processed.  I’ll beg your pardon if the first thought that comes to mind when I hear this is, “Improve it for whom, exactly?.  The sarcasm didn’t stop there.  The more I read, the more questions I have, each tinted with at least a hint of snarkiness. (The snarky comments are denoted in blue).

Peggy Mastroianni, EEOC’s deputy legal counsel, said the working group that issued the recommendations decided to proceed with incremental changes and would tackle only issues on which the group could reach consensus.

If a bureaucratic “working group” with no mandated checklist of required objectives or enforcing agency to ensure the completion of objectives, is going to work only on the objectives that they can agree upon, I’d say it’s a safe bet that none of those objectives is likely to ever get done.  Oh, heck, they may never get started.  When was the last time you were in a group setting where all persons in the group reached consensus on anything?

Among the process updates outlined by the EEOC in a Federal Register notice published on Monday was a requirement that agencies file responses to complaints electronically.

Congratulations!  Federal courts have been filing dockets electronically since, what, around 2005?

Another proposed regulation would require an agency to notify the complainant when its investigation would be complete.  This requirement would be triggered “only” if the investigation was not completed within 180 days from filing.  The notice, of course, also would inform the employee that he has a right to file a lawsuit once the 180-day mark has passed. 

I honestly cannot recall an investigation being completed in 180 days. Certainly not in the past 2 years but maybe not even in the past 5 years. I have clients who responded to charges filed more than 2 years ago without having received any indication that a decision would be rendered any time in the near–or distant–future. So this proposal seems like a guarantee that each complainant will be reminded that they can skip the process altogether and go directly to the courthouse steps. Remind me again, isn’t the purpose of this process somehow linked to the idea that completing it may have desirable benefits to all involved?

A final note of irony can be found in the portion of the notice that explains that the EEOC “intends to provide a mechanism for reviewing and seeking compliance from agencies that fail to comply with the requirements” of a number of EEO directives. In other words, it wants to attempt to get its own house in order.  This may be related to the claim that only about 50% of federal departments and agencies actually follow some of the “mandatory” reporting requirements. 

 

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