For many people, “You’ve Got Mail” evokes fun memories of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan bickering and then falling in love over the internet in the popular 1998 romantic comedy. Now, however, this phrase may evoke far less pleasant emotions (at least for employers) as the EEOC announced earlier this month that its online Public Portal is available nationwide for employees to file charges.
The EEOC has been working on the roll-out of the Public Portal for years and, after piloting the Portal in the EEOC’s Charlotte, Chicago, New Orleans, Phoenix, and Seattle offices earlier this year, the EEOC has now launched the Public Portal nationwide. The EEOC anticipates that the Public Portal will streamline the charge process and open up the intake and charge systems to more employees.
Not only can an employee provide and update personal information through the Public Portal, an employee can proceed with the normal intake process. While the portal will not let employees immediately submit charges, the portal allows an employee to ask the EEOC representatives questions, provide them with information, and upload supporting documentation. At that point, an employee may digitally sign and file a charge online that is prepared with the help of an EEOC representative.
Because the EEOC plans to provide access to charging parties that have charges currently pending and the Public Portal allows instant communication with these charging parties, there is hope that the Public Portal will provide a more efficient and streamlined resolution for the 84,254 charges filed in the Agency’s 2017 fiscal year. Because, however, the Public Portal provides an additional mechanism that is a faster, more immediate path toward filing a charge, commentators anticipate that employers could see an increase in the number of charges filed with the Agency.
While the exact impact of the EEOC’s Public Portal remains to be seen, employers should take this opportunity to:
- Review and develop their internal reporting and complaint policies and procedures;
- Ensure managers and supervisors have received appropriate training; and
- Ensure key leadership and human resources representatives know what to do if they receive notice of a charge.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Will Collins at [email protected].