EEOC Launches New Process for Requesting Formal Opinion Letters

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On December 8, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the launching of a new process for the public to request a formal opinion letter from the EEOC concerning Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), according to an EEOC press release.

“One of my priorities has been for the Commission to provide clear and accurate guidance to the public,” EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon stated in the press release. “The new process for requesting formal opinion letters is a significant step toward allowing the Commission to address areas of the law that may be unclear.”

A formal opinion letter represents the Commission’s official position on the matter raised and reliance upon it may provide a defense to liability. A formal opinion letter is approved by a vote of the EEOC and is signed by the Commission’s Legal Counsel on behalf of and as approved by the Commission.

Members of the public may request a formal opinion letter on the application of EEOC-enforced laws to a specific question or factual scenario. The Commission has discretion on how to respond to these requests and these letters concern matters where the application of existing regulations or guidance may not be clear.

Before requesting a formal opinion letter on Title VII or the ADEA, the public should consult existing regulations and policy guidance from the Commission, which may address their question. The new process for requesting a formal opinion letter is detailed at www.eeoc.gov/formal-opinion-letters.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, transgender status, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEOC laws. Stay connected with the latest news by subscribing to email updates. To learn more about the EEOC, visit www.eeoc.gov.

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