The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an agency that promotes consumer protection and fair business practices, are among the many federal agencies related to the workplace that are closed during the government shutdown that began October 1, 2013. The EEOC shutdown notice is available at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/shutdown_notice.cfm and the FTC shutdown notice is available at http://www.ftc.gov/shutdown.html.
According to the EEOC shutdown notice, a limited number of EEOC services will be available while the government is closed as the remaining staff will mostly be in the field division helping people file employment discrimination claims. People trying to file a charge of discrimination against an employer may go to the EEOC online assessment system and begin the process by selecting “Contact EEOC” from the EEOC main page. EEOC activities that will not occur during the shutdown according to ‘The EEOC Shutdown Contingency Plan’ available at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/shutdown_plan.cfm:
- EEOC staff will not be available to answer questions from the public or to respond to correspondence from the public.
- While EEOC will accept charges that must be filed in order to preserve the rights of a claimant during a shutdown, these charges will not be investigated.
- Insofar as the courts grant EEOC’s requests for extensions of time, EEOC will not litigate in the federal courts.
- Mediations will be cancelled.
- Federal sector hearings will be cancelled, and federal employees’ appeals of discrimination complaints will not be decided.
- EEOC outreach and education events will be cancelled.
- No Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests will be processed.
According to the FTC shutdown notice, the FTC Premerger Notification Office will be open to accept HSR (Hart-Scott-Rodino) filings and Consumers may file FOIA requests but they will not be processed. However, consumers cannot file complaints or register for Do Not Call, and all FTC public workshops, roundtables, hearings, and conferences are postponed until further notice. All FTC employees shall be furloughed except those outlined in the ‘Shutdown of Federal Trade Commission Operations’ plan available at http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/oed/130925ftcshutdownplan.pdf:
- FTC employees performing work to address a threat to human life or property of such a nature that immediate action is necessary.
- FTC employees involved in the orderly shutdown of agency operations or otherwise performing duties where there is necessarily an implied authority to continue certain functions or otherwise allowed by operation of law.
Along with the EEOC and FTC, other federal agencies related to the workplace that are closed and not able to function include the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), according to a report on CNN.com.
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