Good news: You won’t be held personally liable—and neither will your company—for what you say in response to an EEOC complaint. Statements made in an EEOC investigation are privileged.
Recent case: Raymond, an Iranian-American, claimed he wasn’t promoted from his temporary position at Wells Fargo to a permanent one because of his age and national origin. Raymond also claimed that Wells Fargo should be liable for telling the EEOC that he wasn’t hired because he was hostile, unprofessional and bullying. Those characterizations were untrue, he argued, and therefore defamation.
The court tossed out the claim, reasoning that employers and their representatives have immunity for what they say during an EEOC investigation in order to encourage a frank and open assessment of the alleged facts. (Farzan v. Wells Fargo, et al., No. 12-CIV-1217, SD NY, 2013)
- Keep it clean (and sober)! Ensure drug testing is uniform and fair
- Bully boss? At least make sure he's equally disagreeable to all kinds of subordinates
- Remind managers: They may be personally liable for discrimination under obscure law
- Personality clash or gay bias? Courts decide
- But is it really 'bullying'? Probably