If you know an employee has filed a complaint with the EEOC or state anti-discrimination agency, don't trash any relevant records until you receive official notification that the case has been resolved and won't be appealed. And make sure your organization doesn't retaliate against employee/complainers during that waiting time.
While most state agency complaints are handled promptly, it doesn't always happen that way. Some complaints become caught in interagency purgatory. And since most states don't set time limits on such complaints, the wait can be long. To win dismissal of a claim, you need to show that the agency could and should have acted faster and that you're at a disadvantage. That's hard to do, as the following case shows.
Recent case: Some supervisors at a credit union allegedly hatched a plan to get rid of a trouble-making employee. One supervisor, Donna Santos, opposed the plan and was fired.
Santos filed a retaliation claim with the state discrimination agency, but the case languished for four years. The state agency finally sent the case to the EEOC, which filed a federal lawsuit against the credit union, alleging that Santos was retaliated against for opposing an illegal employment practice. The credit union cried foul, saying too much time had passed. The court disagreed and sent the case to trial, saying the EEOC couldn't control the state agency's process. (EEOC v. Navy Federal Credit Union, No. 04-2058, 4th Cir., 2005)
Final tip: Most EEOC or state bias cases are dismissed as without merit or without the agency taking an official position, but employees are given a so-called "Right to Sue" letter. The letter tells employees that they have 90 days to file a state or federal lawsuit. If nothing happens within 90 days, you can usually put the matter behind you.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Consult lawyer before reclassifying employees
- One way to stop retaliation cases: Evenly enforce sick-leave documentation rules
- Unsatisfied whistle-blower may file lawsuit
- Offer legit 'fresh-start' transfer without fear of being punished for retaliation