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EEOC Accepts Charges of Discrimination During Shutdown

Employees who face age, race, or disability discrimination often file charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") to seek to address their discrimination. 

As the government enters its second day of the shutdown, employees must be aware that they must still act to preserve their rights. The EEOC is one of the government agencies impacted by the government shutdown. However, the EEOC has developed a Shutdown Contingency Plan in the absence of appropriations.

The EEOC identified a number of changes to their normal operating activities during a shutdown, including:

(1) Staff will not be available to answer questions from the public, or respond to correspondence from the public;

(2) While the EEOC will accept charges that must be filed to preserve a claimant's rights during a shutdown, the charges will not be investigated;

(3) The EEOC will seek requests for extensions of time in any active cases in Courts and will not litigate in federal courts to the extent such extensions are granted;

(4) Mediations will be cancelled;

(5) Federal sector hearings will be canceled, and federal employees' appeals of discrimination complaints will not be decided;

(6) Outreach and education events will be cancelled; and

(7) Freedom of Information Act requests will not be processed.

Employees are reminded that any shutdown does not toll the time limits to file a charge of discrimination. Whether it is a matter of age, race, or disability discrimination, the anti-discrimination laws only provide a limited amount of time to file a charge of discrimination. In general, an aggrieved employee needs to file a charge within 180 calendar days from the day the discrimination took place. The 180 calendar day filing deadline is extended to 300 calendar days if a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis. The rules are slightly different for age discrimination charges. For age discrimination, the filing deadline is only extended to 300 days if there is a state law prohibiting age discrimination in employment and a state agency or authority enforcing that law. The deadline is not extended if only a local law prohibits age discrimination.

By: Justin A. Morocco

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