The Effect of the Government Shutdown on EEOC Discrimination Charges

The attorneys at GillespieShields practice family, employment, civil, criminal, and immigration law.

As of January 17, 2019, we are in the midst of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.  The government shutdown, now on its 27th day, appears to have no end in sight and may extend for several more weeks into late February 2019 and beyond.  Among many other effects the shutdown has had is the closure of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the office that enforces the federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on race; color; religion; sex; national origin; age; disability; genetic information; or retaliation for opposing discrimination, participating in an investigation of job discrimination, or filing a charge of discrimination.

The EEOC is currently closed, but individuals still suffer harassment and discrimination in the workplace and need assistance.  Unfortunately, while the government is shutdown, toll-free information lines will not be available to help individuals seeking to discuss potential employment discrimination claims. The EEOC will also cancel intake interviews with individual claimants and reschedule them upon the office’s reopening.  Charges pending before the EEOC will be placed on hold and individuals may be required to contact the EEOC upon its reopening to determine the status of their claims.  Mediations scheduled to occur during the shutdown will also be cancelled, making it more difficult for individuals to settle their discrimination claims without representation.

Arizona Employment Discrimination Attorneys are Available for Consultation

Individuals seeking information and advice or attempting to file a charge of discrimination during the government shutdown have other options for obtaining advice about their charges of discrimination.  Our employment discrimination attorneys are available to discuss your potential discrimination or retaliation claims with you.  Our capable attorneys can help you assess the value and strength of your case and ensure your charge of discrimination is properly and timely filed with the EEOC. 

We can help you settle your discrimination or retaliation claim during the government shutdown.  While the nation awaits the resumption of government operations, our attorneys can initiate contact with the discriminating or retaliating party to negotiate settlement.  You do not have to wait for the government shutdown to end to pursue your claim.  Contact our office today to schedule a consultation. 

EEOC Requirements Still Enforced During Government Shutdown

Importantly, the time restrictions relating to your EEOC charge of discrimination will remain in effect during the government shutdown.  Generally, EEOC charges must be filed within 300 days of the last date the claimant suffered an adverse action based on discrimination or retaliation.  This time limit will not be extended during the government shut down.  If you fail to file a charge of discrimination within the time restrictions, you may be prevented from avenues for recovery including mediation or filing a lawsuit to recover damages for your discrimination claims.

If your deadline falls within the next 30 days, there are specific requirements you must meet in order to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. These requirements are listed on the EEOC’s website.  You may file a charge by sending a letter to the EEOC.  The letter must be dated and contain your original (not typewritten) signature.  You need to include the following information:

  1. Your name, address and phone number (including your e-mail address is also helpful);
  2. The name, address, and phone number of the organization you believe discriminated and/or retaliated against you;
  3. The adverse action you believe was discriminatory, the date it occurred, the discriminatory or retaliatory reason it occurred (e.g., whether it was based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information; or whether it was based on retaliation for opposing discrimination, filing a charge, participating in an investigation into discrimination, or another reason);
  4. A request for the EEOC to take remedial action.

https://www.eeoc.gov/shutdown.cfm

If you were discharged or otherwise suffered an adverse action around late March of 2018, the deadline is imminent.  No one knows when the government will resume operations.  Claimants whose deadline is approaching should be aware of these requirements and make sure they file charges timely. 

 

Federal Sector Hearing and Motion Deadlines Postponed

While the EEOC will accept Federal Sector hearing requests during the shutdown, parties at any stage in the hearing process should be aware that their proceedings will be postponed until further notice.  This means that parties before Administrative Judges awaiting settlement conferences, pre-hearing conferences, mediations, hearings on motions, or hearings on the merits will be waiting until after the government resumes operations to participate in those proceedings. 

In similar fashion, deadlines for completing discovery or submitting motions are suspended during the government shutdown.  This suspension will generally be applied such that the deadlines for discovery or submission of motions will be extended for a length of time equal to the number of days the government is shut down. 

If you have a matter in the federal hearings program for which you are not represented by an attorney, you should review your case with an experienced employment attorney.  Individuals face unknown and difficult challenges when attempting to represent themselves at legal hearings before administrative judges.  Oftentimes individuals do not know where to access or how to navigate the numerous rules and regulations applicable to their case, including how best to present their side of the story to an administrative judge. 

Our attorneys have the legal knowledge and experience to present your strongest case possible within the sometimes stringent framework of procedural rules.  Use this time to get ahead in preparation of your case.  Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

Disclaimer

The information contained on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for legal advice concerning your individual situation. We welcome you to contact us via phone, electronic mail, or through this website. However, contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send us confidential information until such time as an attorney-client relationship is established.

 

David Nowakowski is an employment law attorney at GillespieShields. He received his JD in 2013 from Saint Louis University School of Law and has practiced employment law since graduation.

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