EEOC Seeks to Increase Voluntary Resolutions Through Pilot Programs
This month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced two six-month pilot programs intended to increase voluntary resolutions of charges of discrimination.
The ACT (Access, Categories, Time) Mediation pilot expands the categories of charges eligible for mediation – the process by which the charging party and the employer can seek to resolve a pending charge prior to the EEOC’s determination of merit. Moreover, in contrast to before, where charges were only referred to mediation prior to the investigation process, the program now generally allows for mediation throughout an investigation. The EEOC is also facilitating virtual mediations.
The EEOC engages in conciliation an attempt to resolve a charge in which discrimination is found following an investigation. The conciliation pilot program adds the requirement that conciliation offers be approved by the appropriate level of management before they are shared with respondents. This is intended “to drive greater internal accountability and improve the EEOC’s implementation of existing practices.”
These changes – particularly the content and timing expansion of the mediation program – are good news for employers interested in pursuing a quicker and potentially less costly resolution to charge filings.