The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is charged with investigating claims of employment discrimination under federal law. After the agency performs an initial investigation, it can issue a variety of notices to a claimant employee. One important notice is known as a “right-to-sue” letter, which is required before a claimant employee can file a civil action against his or her employer. The issuance of the letter starts a 90-day window for such a suit to be filed.
As of April 7, 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EEOC has formally and temporarily suspended the issuance of right-to-sue notices to claimant employees, unless the charging party requests one to be issued. This suspension is an effort to delay litigation deadlines and will stop the 90-day clock from running against a claimant employee. This does not affect the ability to bring an action against employers under state discrimination laws, unless such states have implemented procedures otherwise. Importantly, no other filing deadlines with the EEOC have been tolled. Claimants still must comply with the deadlines (180 or 300 days) to file charges of discrimination with the EEOC.
As a result of the EEOC’s new policy, employers can expect to see delays in EEOC investigations and few, if any, right-to-sue notices issued on pending discrimination charges so long as a national state of emergency is in effect. Employers will continue to see new charges of discrimination filed with the EEOC however.
If you have any questions regarding the EEOC process or employment discrimination claims, please call any member of Reminger’s Employment Practices Defense Group.