Q. A former employee recently filed a complaint against my company with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging race discrimination. As part of its investigation, the agency will be coming to our offices to interview employees. Do I have to make these employees available? Can I sit in on the employee interviews? —D.N., Colorado
A. Assuming the employees are at work the day the EEOC representative arrives, you must make them available. If you do not, you run the risk that the EEOC will contact them at home.
As for whether you can sit in on the interview, the answer depends on whether the employees in question areor nonmanagement. Since the company can be held responsible for the actions of its supervisors, you and your lawyer can sit in on the management interviews. Usually, the lawyer prepares managers by reviewing the questions they can expect and going over relevant company policies and practices. The lawyer doesn't prepare nonmanagement employees to the same degree, but does briefly explain that it is a routine interview and the EEOC's presence does not mean that the company has done anything wrong.
Discuss the upcoming interviews with your employment attorney.