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Speak freely to EEOC–it’s privileged communication

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

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)

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