The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is charged with investigating discrimination in the workplace. Whether you’ve filed a complaint against your employer with the EEOC or you’re a business owner facing an EEOC complaint, you might wonder how long the commission will take to investigate the claims. While there is no set timeline, understanding the different steps in the investigation should help you estimate how long you have until the investigation is completed.
On average, an EEOC investigation takes about 182 days to complete, according to the EEOC’s website. However, how long your investigation takes depends on several factors, including the specific charges against a company, the company’s promptness in providing required statements and documents and how many people must be interviewed by the investigator.
An EEOC investigator will be assigned to look into the charges. Both parties will be given his name and contact information in a letter stating that the EEOC is investigating the alleged discrimination. The employer will be asked to furnish a statement of position and furnish information such as personnel policies or the file for the complaining individual. The investigator may visit the workplace to collect facts and conduct witness interviews. The investigator will then make a decision.
Employers can shorten the length of an EEOC investigation by engaging in mediation or by settling. The EEOC offers mediation free of charge, but this is entirely voluntary. Employers can ask for mediation at any time in the investigation. The average complaint that goes to mediation is resolved within 84 days. The second option is a settlement. As with mediation, an employer can choose to settle a complaint at any point during the investigation. In a settlement, no one has to admit liability and the charges are dismissed.
Often, an EEOC investigation is not the end of a discrimination complaint. If the EEOC determines that there’s sufficient evidence of discrimination, it will send both parties a letter stating that and offering the chance for informal conciliation talks. If the employer turns down conciliation, the agency can file a lawsuit against the employer. Alternately, the EEOC may choose not to pursue litigation but will tell the complainant that he has a right to file a lawsuit within 90 days. If the agency finds no evidence of discrimination, it will issue a dismissal notice. This tells the complainant that he has a right to file a lawsuit if he still feels he has a case.