When I first started representing South Carolina employees a decade ago, I was taken aback at the haphazard and frustrating process for filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Most of my employment cases start with the EEOC and with filing those EEOC charges.
In those days, we mailed off the signed EEOC charges to the local office, which is just down the street. Maybe half the time we got confirmation of the charge filing back within a reasonable time. For all the others, it was a game of trying to track down where they placed they charge, whether it got filed at all, or if the charge had completely disappeared. For a mandated filing process with time limits, it was incredibly frustrating.
A few years ago, we were able to start filing by email, which helped tremendously in keeping track of which charges went where. And, in conjunction with granting the plaintiff’s attorney access to the Portal, we could actually see the charge, the assigned investigator, and any documents uploaded. But we still had to rely on someone within the EEOC to enter all the information in and process the charge.
But now, as of the beginning of this year, the EEOC has finally granted us an option to file directly through the Portal. I’ve used it several times, and it’s working well thus far. Plus, there’s instant assignment of a charge number, and it pops up on my list of cases on the Portal immediately. Kudos to the EEOC for taking this important step!
Next steps that are needed: the contact information of the lawyer for the Company. For whatever reason, that information is not automatically released to the Charging Party’s lawyer, so I have to try and track it down myself or wait for the Position Statement to be provided. Give me a chance to talk to the other lawyer, and my guess is we can get more of these resolved earlier.
If you’re an employee trying to file a charge without an attorney helping you, right now the wait time to get an initial interview with the EEOC in Greenville is 3-4 months out. Having an attorney means that the charge can be filed immediately without waiting for an interview with the EEOC investigator.