For employers, any type of litigation notice can be stress-inducing, including inquiries from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As with any type of potential litigation risk, business owners worry about the costs, the amount of resources needed for the investigation and, if it is an EEOC charge, they also worry about their employment practices. But the EEOC has an Alternative Dispute Resolution process to streamline the process for both employees and employers.
The normal process
Normally, once an employee files a charge against their employer, this initiates an investigation at the EEOC. The EEOC will investigate the incident, the employer’s employment processes and policies, conduct on-site visits, interview employees, etc. An EEOC investigation is a full investigation, and it normally takes around 200 days. Although it could take longer, depending on the circumstances. Then, after the EEOC decides, the EEOC can bring litigation, but even if they do not, the employee can then file in federal court.
Even after that Irvine, California, litigation concludes, the employee can appeal at least twice. This means that when a business owner receives an EEOC notification, that business may be on the hook for attorney and litigation expenses, along with the expenses associated with complying with the EEOC and federal court processes. That is a daunting proposal.
A more streamlined process: mediation
EEOC mediation is a voluntary program that is available on any case where both the California employee and employer agree to utilize the process. It is a confidential process, whereby a neutral, third party helps both sides come to a settlement of the claims. Nothing in the process is mandatory, the mediator cannot force a settlement or find fault and either party can cancel the process at any point. And anything discussed in the process cannot be used in subsequent EEOC investigations or litigation.
EEOC mediation has over a 70% success rate, including nearly 15% of those settlements only including nonmonetary settlements. Plus, it is normally completed in about 90 days, well below the normal 200 days for an EEOC investigation. This means the process takes a lot less time, which means it is a much more economical option for businesses. And, it allows both Orange County parties to move forward.