Effective Nov. 1, 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that they have created and made effective a new portal that makes the process of filing a complaint as easy as signing into a portal and getting the process started. The press release said:
The EEOC Public Portal allows individuals to submit online initial inquiries and requests for intake interviews with the agency. Initial inquiries and intake interviews are typically the first steps for individuals seeking to file a charge of discrimination with EEOC… The new system enables individuals to digitally sign and file a charge prepared by the EEOC for them. Once an individual files a charge, he or she can use the EEOC Public Portal to provide and update contact information, agree to mediate the charge, upload documents to his or her charge file, receive documents and messages related to the charge from the agency and check on the status of his or her charge. These features are available for newly filed charges and charges that were filed on or after Jan. 1, 2016 that are in investigation or mediation.
This means that employees who feel they have been discriminated against by an employer can just whip out their smartphone and get the process started. Prior to this, they had to call or go to an office and in many cases, they would have had a chance to “cool-off” and reconsider what they are about to do.
They do have to go through a process of determination, but this is all started by filing an inquiry. The portal says that filing an inquiry is not the same as filing a complaint. It says:
An inquiry is typically your first contact with the EEOC regarding your concerns about potential employment discrimination, which is followed by an interview with EEOC staff. Submitting an inquiry is the first step to determine whether you want to proceed with filing a formal charge of discrimination. A charge of discrimination is a signed statement asserting that an organization engaged in employment discrimination. It requests EEOC to take remedial action.
The EEOC has taken this step to streamline and speed up the process of dealing with the over 700,000 inquiries and calls they get on an annual basis. They feel this will shorten the time for people in getting a response to their desire for satisfaction/justice/vengeance, or whatever is appropriate.
Ah, this modern world. The next time you discipline an employee, better make sure you are doing it for a good, legal reason, otherwise, they may pick up their smartphone and you may get an email from the EEOC.