How Does the Government Shutdown Affect the EEOC?
The shutdown of the federal government is having a significant impact on the operations of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the EEOC’s Shutdown Contingency Plan, the EEOC’s workforce is significantly reduced and, although certain EEOC activities are continuing, many are not.
The Plan provides that during the shutdown the EEOC will proceed as follows:
- EEOC staff will not be available to answer questions or respond to correspondence from the public.
- The EEOC will continue to accept charges of discrimination, but will not investigate those charges.
- The EEOC will request continuances for pending litigation and will continue to litigate only if a court denies its request for an extension of time.
- The EEOC will remain ready to seek a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction, if necessary.
- EEOC mediations will be cancelled.
- Federal sector hearings will be cancelled, and federal employees’ appeals of discrimination complaints will not be decided.
- Outreach and education events will be cancelled.
- No Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests will be processed.
During the shutdown, the EEOC’s workforce will be reduced from 2,164 staff and contract personnel to 107 staff and contract personnel, many of whom will be part-time or on-call.
Takeaway: Employers who have mediations scheduled with the EEOC in the near future or who are awaiting decisions on pending charges of discrimination will need to be patient during the government shutdown.