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How far can MDCR investigation go?

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Q. Our company is responding to a charge filed with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR). The allegation relates to management’s treatment of one employee. However, during the investigation, the MDCR  asked us to produce various unrelated records—for example, promotion records. The charging party has made no claim that he was discriminated against with respect to any promotion. He has never even sought a promotion. How should we respond to this request?

A.
The MDCR (and the EEOC) routinely sends out standard requests for documents while investigating a charge of discrimination. Your compliance with the initial request for information is voluntary—you have not been subpoenaed to produce anything. Frequently, the MDCR’s request for information will make note that if you fail to voluntarily comply with its requests for information, it will seek a subpoena.

It is not uncommon to respond to a request for information with some sort of objection as to its relevance to the charge. Assuming you have otherwise addressed the allegations in the charge, the investigating agency may not pursue the data you consider not relevant.

However, even though the requested information goes beyond the scope of the charge, don’t be surprised if the court enforces a subpoena issued by the MDCR or the EEOC. The scope of these agencies’ investigatory authority is broad, and they do have the authority to investigate issues that are only remotely connected to the alleged conduct.

In short, it is appropriate for you to limit your response to this request, but ultimately you may be required to furnish the information.

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