Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
Many agencies are experiencing lingering effects after the longest-ever partial government shutdown, including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Recognizing these effects will include delays and potential confusion, the EEOC has released a guidance document to help employers navigate some difficulties.
This guidance comes in Q&A format and touches on potential difficulties with several types of EEOC activities, including private sector charges and investigations, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, federal complaints and hearings, and the delayed EEO-1 survey.
For private sector employers, the most pressing questions center on missed deadlines for filings and timelines for responses to charges. For example, parties to an EEOC charge with responses due during the shutdown are being granted an extension to the submission deadline to February 12, 2019. Employers issued a notice of a charge of discrimination during the shutdown have also been given an extension to respond. Those employers have been instructed to use the Respondent Portal to submit Position Statements by March 1, 2019.
Employers that had a mediation scheduled during the shutdown should wait for the EEOC to contact them to reschedule. The EEOC will also reach out to reschedule meetings with any witnesses in active investigations who were scheduled to speak during the shutdown.
The Q&A guidance notes that the EEOC is working diligently to restore normal operations and scheduling as soon as possible. In the meantime, employers should be patient and watch for continuing updates and communications.