You've done your best to create a friendly workplace, and you were confident that there was no discrimination or harassment in your office.
Still, you received a complaint from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and now you have to figure out how to respond. Here a few things to keep in mind if you receive and EEOC complaint.
It's Not Too Late
Just because you've received a notice from the EEOC, that doesn't mean the process is over -- in fact, the charge handling process has just begun.
An EEOC charge should notify you of an impending investigation into the alleged discrimination, and will also advise whether your charge is available for mediation. If mediation is an option, you are free to settle the case with the charging party any time before a determination is made.
But Don't Wait
If your case is not eligible for mediation or you are unable to reach a settlement, the EEOC will investigate the charge. You may submit a response to the charge, and you may be required to respond to requests for information or permit investigators to visit your business.
Your responses should be prompt and complete. Delaying, ignoring requests, or providing confusing or incomplete responses will only hamper your defense. Don't try to hide or wait out an EEOC charge -- it won't work.
It's Still Not Too Late
Even if the EEOC finds reasonable cause to believe discrimination has occurred in your workplace, it will still give you a chance to resolve the matter on your own. This is known as "conciliation," and only if that doesn't work will the EEOC file a lawsuit.
Once the EEOC files the lawsuit, however, it might be too late. And, if you haven't already, it's definitely time to notify your insurance company and consult with an experienced employment law attorney.