EEOC Closed Due to Partial U.S. Federal Government Shutdown

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the federal agency that enforces laws prohibiting employment discrimination – is closed due to the partial shutdown of the United States federal government that began on December 22, 2018, according to a notice on the EEOC website.

While the federal government is closed, a limited number of EEOC services will be available. People who are trying to contact the EEOC, or who have existing business with the agency, please refer to the information available in the notice. All EEOC digital portals will be closed and will not be accessible to the public.

The EEOC enforces federal laws that prohibit job discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, retaliation for filing a charge of job discrimination, participating in an investigation of a job discrimination complaint, or opposing job discrimination.

People who are trying to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC against a private employer or a state or local government employer should remember that there are specific time limits. The time limits depend on where the employer is located or where the alleged discrimination took place.

Charges generally have to be filed within 300 days of the incident. People in a state where there is no state fair employment practice agency – North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, or Arkansas – have a time limit of 180 days to file a charge. These time limits may not be extended in the shutdown.

The EEOC will accept Pre-Charge Inquiries about possible job discrimination during the government shutdown.  However, the EEOC Public Portal will not be available to submit an Inquiry online. Instead, people should download the EEOC Pre-Charge Inquiry, complete it, and mail, drop-off, or fax it to the EEOC.

Once a charge of job discrimination is filed, the EEOC is required by law to notify the employer named in the charge. The EEOC will not be able to investigate charges during the shutdown but will contact people who filed the charges to discuss discrimination claims when the federal government reopens.

During the shutdown, the EEOC will not able to staff its toll-free numbers: 1-800-669-4000 (Voice), 1-800-669-6820 (TTY), or 1-844-234-5122 (ASL Video Phone). Information on the EEOC website will not be updated. For more information about the government shutdown, visit www.eeoc.gov/shutdown.cfm.

A federal government shutdown in the United States occurs when Congress and the President fail to pass appropriations legislation funding government operations and agencies. Since 1976, there have been government shutdowns in 1980, 1981, 1984, 1986, 1990, 1995–1996, 2013, and 2018.

The EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In September of 2018, the EEOC announced it reached an agreement with a furniture retailer to implement revised criminal background check policies to comply with Title VII.

In April of 2018, Target Corporation agreed to pay $3.7 million to settle a class action lawsuit that claimed a disproportionate number of otherwise qualified African-American and Latino applicants were automatically disqualified from employment opportunities under Target’s criminal background check policy in violation of Title VII.

In April of 2012, the EEOC approved ‘Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’ that has changed how U.S. employers hire. The EEOC guidance is at www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm.

The EEOC Guidance “recommends that employers not ask about convictions on job applications and that, if and when they make such inquiries, the inquiries be limited to convictions for which exclusion would be job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.”

ESR founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Attorney Lester Rosen has written a white paper entitled “Practical Steps Employers Can Take to Comply with the EEOC Criminal Record Guidance.” To learn more, visit www.esrcheck.com/Tools-Resources/Whitepaper-Library/EEOC-Criminal-Record-Guidance/.

ESR Offers EEOC Toolkit

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm – offers an EEOC Toolkit that reduces the time and effort needed for compliance with EEOC guidance on the use of criminal records. To learn about the EEOC Toolkit, visit www.esrcheck.com/ESR-Solutions/EEOC-Toolkit/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

© 2018 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.


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