"Notorious Nine" mistakes by employers in dealing with the EEOC

by Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP
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Everybody on the employer side likes to pick on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the temptation is even greater now that its chair has taken such an aggressive stance on issues like pre-employment credit and background checks. However, employers occasionally shoot themselves in the foot (feet?) with the agency by making mistakes that only compound their problems. If you can avoid making these nine mistakes, chances are good that you (and your company) will be on the list of employers to whom the EEOC gives the benefit of the doubt – a very good place to be.

No. 9. They don't communicate. Many employers and their attorneys fail to stay in touch with the EEOC while an investigation is taking place. Yes, it is true that the Commission is the guilty party at least as often as the employer. But whether fair or unfair, the employers are the ones under investigation and therefore bear the practical burden of showing that they acted properly. Proactive communication with the EEOC investigator builds credibility for the company and for the attorney who represents it.

No. 8. They underestimate. Many employers and their counsel underestimate the competence and professionalism of the EEOC. Don’t laugh! They assume that the EEOC will not give the employer a fair shake, or that the investigator is not smart enough to identify the relevant issues in a charge. In my experience, this is unfair to most EEOC investigators -- although they may have a pro-employee bias (just as most of us have a pro-company bias), most do want to find the truth and be fair to both the employer and the charging party.

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