The Meaning of EEOC Conciliation


By: Jennifer B. Miller

Under Title VII, the EEOC must “endeavor to eliminate” alleged unlawful employment practices through informal means, such as conciliation, before it can file suit against an employer.  On April 29, the Supreme Court issued an opinion explaining that courts can review the EEOC’s efforts, and addressing what the EEOC’s conciliation efforts must look like.

Specifically, in Mach Mining, LLC v. EEOC, the Supreme Court held that in order to comply with its obligations, the EEOC must inform the employer of the specific discrimination allegations, describe what the employer has done, and describe which employees (or class of employees) have suffered.  Further, the EEOC must “engage the employer in some form of discussion,” to give the employer an opportunity to remedy the discriminatory practice. Unfortunately for employers, even if a court finds that the EEOC failed to meet this standard, the result is not dismissal of the suit—rather, the Supreme Court said that the proper remedy is to order the EEOC to conciliate.  Accordingly, this decision has been viewed as only a partial victory for employers.

If you have any questions about EEOC conciliation or the EEOC process in general, please contact any of the attorneys in our Labor and Employment practice group.