The EEOC launched a pilot program, “ACT Digital” on May 6, 2015 in the following EEOC offices: Charlotte, N.C. (that includes Greenville, S.C.; Norfolk, Va.; Raleigh, N.C.; Richmond, V.A.); and San Francisco, C.A. Additionally, the EEOC announced plans to expand the pilot to four more districts by the end of May 2015 and that ACT Digital will be available nationwide by October 1, 2015.
ACT Digital is the EEOC’s first step in a move to an entirely digital charge system by enabling the electronic transmission of documents between the parties to a charge and the EEOC. Eventually, ACT Digital will include the entire charge process, but for now the system enables employers to:
- View and download the charge;
- Review an invitation to mediate and respond to the charge;
- Submit a Position Statement;
- Provide and/or verify Respondent contact information, including the designation of a Legal Representative; and
- Engage in online communication with the EEOC.
The EEOC launched the program in an effort to fulfill its responsibilities pursuant to the directive of Executive Order 13571, “Streaming Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service,” that requires Federal Agencies to expand online services in an effort to improve customer service.
Employers should be aware that according to the EEOC in its Questions and Answers (found at: http://www.eeoc.gov/employers/act-digital-qanda.cfm) the program will work as follows: “if the EEOC has an e-mail address for a designated contact to receive charges for the respondent employer, an electronic notice of charge will be sent to that e-mail address on file with the EEOC. If the EEOC does not have an e-mail address for the respondent employer, a paper notice will be mailed to the address of record for the respondent employer. The notice of the charge instructs the respondent to log into the secure portal with the specific charge number and a system-generated password.” Thereafter, the respondent employer can designate a contact person for receiving the charges in the future, including an attorney. Each charge will be assigned unique log-in information and if mediation is an option, a message will appear in the system with a prompt for the company to make one of three responses: “agree,” “decline,” or “request additional information.”
Please note that while currently there is no ability to use the ACT Digital for charges pending at the time the pilot launched, the EEOC is considering that expansion. Employers need to notify and train employees on the new program because the notices are going to look different and require logging into a computer, so it is important that employees know that they should not disregard any emails or letters from the EEOC as a scam.
If you are interested in more information about how ACT Digital may affect your business, the Employment Law Team at Sands Anderson would be happy to assist.