This month the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) launched a pilot program referred to as the Action Counsel for Transformation to a Digital Charge System (“Act Digital”) taking its first steps toward an all-digital charge system. Currently, 11 of the 53 field offices are participating in the pilot program, including the Phoenix, Arizona field office. The EEOC anticipates expanding the program to all 53 offices by October 1, 2015.
The first phase of Act Digital seeks to streamline the communication between the EEOC and employers through the use of a secure digital portal. Under the pilot program, employers will no longer receive a hard copy of EEOC charges. Instead, employers will receive an email notification with a web link to a secure online portal to access the charge. The online portal will allow the employer to (1) view and download the charge, (2) provide and verify contact information, (3) review and respond to the invitation to mediate, (4) submit a position statement, and (5) communicate with the EEOC. According to the EEOC, if an employer does not log into the system within ten days of the notice, an EEOC employee will be notified in order to re-serve the notification of charge. A user’s guide is currently available through the EEOC at http://www.eeoc.gov/employers/respondent_portal_users_guide.cfm.
The EEOC will send a physical paper notification of the charge and link to the online portal to any employer that does not have an email address on file. Currently, employers may opt out of the electronic system.
While the EEOC anticipates expanding the electronic system to allow individuals to file a charge of discrimination online, it is not yet available.
In light of these changes, we recommend that employers update their designated representative and his or her contact information with the EEOC. In addition, employers should take steps to ensure that any electronic email is meticulously monitored to timely respond to all EEOC communications.