­­­In the April 3 issue of BenefitsPRO, Nashville counsel Sally Ramsey and Winston-Salem partner Robin Shea discuss the recently-proposed changes to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations, and they unpack the substantive proposed changes as well as the more “cosmetic” adjustments.

The first of the major changes revolves around the clarifying the time allotted for filing a claim in “deferral states,” a change the attorneys say bodes well for employers. “When a state has its own fair employment practices agency, the individual has 300 days to file a charge instead of the usual 180 days. Under the proposed regulations, the individual in a deferral state would get only 180 days to file a charge if the state fair employment practices statute didn’t apply at all to the type of discrimination being alleged,” the attorneys explain. Though, if the specific claim falls under a general type of discrimination prohibited by the state, the employee would get the full 300 days to file a claim.

Additionally, investigators will now have the power to issue “no-cause” findings and “notice of right to sue,” rather than directors. The attorneys note that this proposal seems to be “intended to help investigators dismiss questionable charges quickly and reduce their inventory of unresolved charges.”

The third major change is that names of charging parties in age discrimination cases have the option to be withheld from the employer, if they are acting on behalf of the aggrieved party. Though the individual’s name does have to be given to the EEOC if they request anonymity, there is nothing in the new provisions to say their name ever has to be given to the employer.

Less impactfully, the EEOC proposed changes to its electronic communications process to officially catch up to current methods in place already, formally acknowledging submission of information via digital communications (web portals, emails, etc.). Secondly, “no-cause does not mean the employer ‘won.’” This is a cosmetic change to the wording on the Dismissal and Notice of Rights forms to clarify the point. All “no-cause” means is that the agency must “issue a dismissal and notice of rights to the charging party,” who will have 90 days to challenge.

As for what’s next, Sally and Robin advise employers to become well versed in these proposed changes, as they were officially approved back in December of 2018. Comments on the proposed regulations will be accepted until April 23.

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