The EEOC has said it will allow some flexibility for both federal employees and responding agencies regarding deadlines for complaints there due to the Coronavirus pandemic, saying that those deadlines should be met “where practicable” but recognizing that the parties “may face challenges that preclude them from meeting” those deadlines.
“The EEOC must balance its duty to ensure that the EEO process continues efficiently and effectively, without compromising the safety of federal employees or the rights or safety of complainants and others involved in the EEO process,” it said. “The EEOC expects that agencies and employees will continue to process EEO complaints in a timely manner that will best preserve the legal rights of the parties involved, unless doing so would interfere with mission-critical operations for an agency.”
New guidelines, posted at eeoc.gov, among other things encourage the parties “to seek mutual agreement with respect to the extension of any timeframes. Where such agreements are reached, they should be reduced to writing and made part of the record” and the EEOC will honor them “unless they are clearly onerous to one party or otherwise violate” legal standards.
The EEOC further asked that agency EEO offices “continue counseling employees, accepting their discrimination complaints, and investigating these complaints to the fullest extent possible without undermining mission-critical functions. We ask agencies not to issue final actions on any EEO complaint, unless the investigation is complete and the complainant has requested that the final action be issued.”