EEOC’s Clock Keeps Ticking – Avoid Procrastination | DCR Workforce Blog

EEOC’s Clock Keeps Ticking – Avoid Procrastination

eeocAccording to Napoleon Hill, procrastination (or, postponement) is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday. When considering charges of discrimination, the EEOC applies a strict timeframe after which charges will not be accepted.

Major Causes for Action:

There are different acts by an employer which may be considered as discriminatory. Some of them are detailed below:

  • Discharge from work
  • Denial of promotion
  • Failure to hire, due to discrimination against race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age and disability
  • Creating a hostile work environment
  • Continuing acts of discrimination regarding appropriate pay or benefits.  These cases are often addressed as class action suits.

Guidance on Filing:

The EEOC applies variable parameters to fix the filing deadline in cases brought before the commission:

  • A charge of discrimination has to be filed within 180 days of occurrence.
  • If the basis on which the charge is brought is also enforced and prohibited by that state or by local agency, the timeframe can be extended to 300 days.
  • For an age discrimination charge, the extension to 300 days is allowed only if it is enforced by the state’s law. Federal employees have a completely different compliance process, which requires them to contact an agency EEO counselor – to seek guidance and advice – within 45 days from the time the potential discriminatory action took effect. Every federal agency has the duty to share the details of its process with its staff.
  • If there are multiple charges of discriminatory events, the deadline for each offense gets counted individually. If no charge was brought for the earlier event, it would not be possible to address both events in the second claim unless, of course, the charges specify a case of ongoing harassment.
  • It is important to note that the EEOC specifically includes holidays and weekends, in counting these days – while allowing a breather until the next working day, if the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday.
  • Charges of discrimination under the Equal Pay Act need not be filed with the EEOC – and may be filed with any court within 3 years.

It is advisable to bring charges as soon as possible after the cause arises. Many people have lost their opportunity for filing with the EEOC, as they were intently pursuing the matter through other forums. By first filing a case with the EEOC, anyone with a grievance could extend the process by an additional 60 days as the EEOC defers the matter to a state agency with a 60 day window. This extends the window of opportunity for resolution to (180 plus 60) 240 days.

Burden of Proof:

The burden of proof for claiming that charge was filed past the deadline lies with the employer and not the employee. Employers may verify this aspect of any case by reviewing the EEOC paperwork for possible alteration of any dates reported to the EEOC. The employer would also have the burden of disproving that the discrimination ‘did not happen’ on the dates cited by the employee.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.