Facing an EEOC charge is a serious matter for employers. They may be in a for a very rough ride.
Many employers are shocked to receive an EEOC complaint. The following months will take a lot of time as they respond to official requests for information and sometimes intrusive investigations. Add in potentially large legal bills, negative publicity and, if the complaint is upheld, expensive damages.
Unfortunately, too many employers become their own worst enemies as they interact with EEOC staff over discrimination charges.
What to Expect After an EEOC Charge
After a worker files a complaint with the EEOC, the agency will notify the employer and ask for a “statement of position.” This is the employer’s side of the story.
The EEOC will follow up with a formal request to the employer for documents and other information relevant to the case, such as copies of human resources policies and personnel files.
Rarely, EEOC visit the workplace to request interviews with other employees. The employer can refuse, but keep in mind the EEOC can contact them away from work, without the employer’s knowledge or permission.
This activity is simply fact-finding. The EEOC will use the information it gathers to determine if the complaint merits further action and launch a formal investigation. This is what will probably cost your business more time and money. It’s wise for employers to take the investigation very seriously and not try to “wing it.”
What Can an E.E.O.C Complaint Cost Your Company?
Employers who the EEOC finds has violated workplace anti-discrimination laws and decide to fight in court are taking a big chance. If they lose, they can be ordered to pay complainants’ legal and court costs. The court can award compensatory and punitive damages to employees who filed the complaint. For small and mid-size businesses, the damages can be steep:
- Up to $50,000 per person for employers with 15 to 100 employees
- Up to $100,000 for employers with 101 to 200 employees
- Up to $200,000 for 201 to 300 employees
- Up to $300,000 for more than 300 workers.
These amounts do not take into account mandatory attorney fees the employer pays for employee who prevail in court.
Take an EEOC complaint, or a threat to complain, seriously! Contact our office for a consultation and get the help and advice you will need to respond to workplace legal issues like this.