Litigating your complaint of employment discrimination does not always end if or when the parties choose to enter into a voluntary settlement agreement. Disputes arise over compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement, despite the best intentions of both parties to honor the settlement agreement. There are specific procedures for seeking to enforce a settlement agreement at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
While either the complainant or the agency can be charged with failure to comply with the terms of a settlement agreement, the EEOC regulations provide only for a complainant to seek enforcement of a settlement agreement. There is a two-step procedure for seeking enforcement of a settlement agreement at the EEOC. First, the complainant must notify the agency’s EEO director, in writing, of the reasons the complainant believes the agency has not complied with the terms of the settlement agreement. There is a time limit that the complainant must meet in order to seek enforcement. The complainant must submit written notice to the EEO director within 30 days of when the complainant first knew or should have known of the agency’s non-compliance with the settlement agreement. This time limit is easy to calculate if the settlement agreement sets specific dates for completion of the terms of the agreement. So that both parties clearly understand the terms of the settlement agreement and each party’s obligations under the settlement agreement, it is a good idea to include specific timeframes for completion of each term of the settlement agreement.
Next, the EEOC regulations provide that the agency be given an opportunity to investigate and resolve the complainant’s allegations that the agency has failed to comply with the terms of the settlement agreement. The agency must provide the complainant a written response to the complainant’s allegation of non-compliance. If the complainant has not received a written response from the agency within 35 days after the complainant has submitted in writing the reasons the complainant believes the agency has not complied with the terms of the settlement agreement, the complainant may file an appeal to the EEOC Office of Federal Operations. In the appeal, the complainant can request that the terms of the settlement agreement be specifically implemented or that the complaint be reinstated for further processing. Alternatively, if the agency has submitted a written response to the complainant, but the complainant is not satisfied with the agency’s attempt to resolve the matter, the complainant must file an appeal at the EEOC Office of Federal Operations within 30 days of receiving the agency’s written response.
If the complainant’s appeal is successful, the complainant will generally be able to recover from the agency attorney fees and costs incurred for enforcing the agreement.
** This information is provided by the attorneys at Passman & Kaplan, P.C., a law firm dedicated to the representation of federal employees worldwide. For more information on Passman & Kaplan, P.C., go to http://www.passmanandkaplan.com. **