The EEOC recently announced that it will begin communicating with employers through an online Digital Charge System rather than regular mail and e-mail. The EEOC receives roughly 90,000 charges of discrimination per year. The proposed purpose of the “ACT Digital” pilot program is to ease the administrative burden of handling those charges and to reduce the use of paper submissions and files.
The planned start dates for the roll out are staggered according to EEOC field office:
- May 6, 2015 – Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Norfolk, Raleigh, Richmond and San Francisco.
- June 1, 2015 – Detroit, Denver, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Seattle
- October 31, 2015 – Nationwide
Human Resources managers need to be cognizant of this forthcoming change because the new notice forms will look substantially different from the current standard form (EEOC Form 131). Specifically, the new form notice will (1) only be a single page titled “Notice of Charge of Discrimination” and (2) it will not contain the specific allegations. Instead, the new notice letter will instruct the employer to visit an online “Respondent Portal” through a unique URL and enter a special password listed in the letter to view the actual contents of the charge of discrimination. Therefore, HR staff must be ready to start receiving and responding to the new forms. If your organization receives a letter like the one described above know that it is not a scam and you are expected to respond to it.
At this time, the Digital Charge System will only be used up to the point in time that the employer submits its position statement. All subsequent communications (such as responding to requests for additional information) will be performed as usual through e-mail and regular mail. However, the EEOC hopes to eventually move all communication throughout the administrative charge review process onto the Digital Charge System.
This blog post was drafted by Sue Willman and Brian Peterson, attorneys at Spencer Fane Britt & Browne, LLP’s Kansas City, MO Office.