Carefully review all paperwork accompanying the charge.
EEOC Charges usually come with several sections of paperwork. These may include a Notice of Rights, a description of the EEOC's mediation program, an agreement to mediate, requests for information, and the summary of facts that the employee claims shows discrimination or harassment. Each of these sections is important, and each contains specific directions for response, as well as response deadlines. They should be read carefully, and none of the documents received should be thrown away.
Make a note of any deadlines.
Charge information may include several deadlines. For instance, there will likely be a deadline for either agreeing to or declining mediation. There will also be a deadline for responding to the charge itself. This deadline should not be ignored. While you can request a brief extension of time to respond if necessary, failing to respond on time can result in the EEOC finding against you. Failing to respond at all may have the same result. Deadlines should be highlighted and noted. If you decide to hire an attorney to assist in your response, this will be some of the first information he or she will want to know.
Consider whether you will respond to the charge yourself or hire counsel to respond on your behalf.
Soon after receiving a charge, you will need to decide whether you are going to respond on your own or hire an attorney to respond for you. While charge responses do not need to be overly formal, and may be made in a letter, if you are not familiar with employment law in general or the specific legal issues raised in the charge, you may miss issues that are crucial for your defense. If the charge is the first indication you have of the problem, you will also likely need to conduct an investigation into the claims made by the employee. Again, being able to recognize the legal issues presented by the charge is crucial to conducting an effective investigation. In addition to expertise, an attorney can assist in the charge response process by freeing up business resources that would otherwise be used in drafting a response. Many law firms offer charge response services for low or flat fees. Depending on your circumstances, this may be money well spent.
Ensure that your response is thorough and accurate. If working with an attorney, coordinate with her to ensure that your response is accurate.
If you choose to respond to the charge on your own, it is essential that your response fully answer each of the claims in the employee's charge. Your response must also be fully accurate. This is your opportunity to set the tone for what happened. Failing to respond truthfully or accurately not only squanders that opportunity, but may also seriously damage your chances of having the charge dismissed. Even if you decide to use an attorney to respond to your charge, it is essential that you work closely with that attorney to ensure that your response is accurate. No one else knows your business like you do, including your attorney.
Respond promptly to any additional communications from the EEOC.
After filing your charge response, you may receive follow up communications or requests for additional information from the EEOC. Like the initial charge, these communications should not be ignored. Be sure to respond promptly to each one, and be sure that the information you provide is truthful and accurate.
Additional resources provided by the author
For more information on the EEOC Charge process, you may visit the EEOC website at www.eeoc.gov.