The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that it will resume issuing charge closure documents again, effective August 3, 2020.
On March 21, 2020, the agency temporarily stopped closing charges, which includes furnishing right-to-sue notices. These Notices give complainants 90 days to file their lawsuit in court or lose the ability to litigate federal claims. The EEOC’s reasoning for suspending charge closures was to avoid “negative impacts” on complainants’ and respondents’ “ability to protect and exercise their rights effectively” during the pandemic. The EEOC issued charge closure documents to complainants who specifically requested them between March 21 and August 2.
The EEOC says it will take six to eight weeks to review charges that have been held in suspense over the last four and one-half months. The agency will begin with charges held the longest — the FIFO method, for you accountants out there.
In addition, the EEOC’s announcement said: “The Department of Justice, which issues Notices in investigations involving state and local governments, referred to them by the EEOC, is also resuming the issuance of Notices” on August 3, 2020.
Most complainants in Iowa file their charges of employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission or with a municipal civil rights agency, as allowed by law. Such charges are cross-filed with the EEOC, but the EEOC usually takes a back seat while the state or local agency investigates and adjudicates them. Over the last few years, however, our firm has seen an increase in charges filed directly and initially with the EEOC, where the EEOC takes the lead, instead. We have found employers do not always recognize or receive charge closure documents that are emailed from the EEOC’s web portal. If you have a charge pending at the EEOC, be sure EEOC emails can get through your SPAM filters, and regularly check your charges on the portal to see if they have been closed and the Notice of right-to-sue has been issued.