Ida Castro, Chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, explains what to do if you need to file a discrimination or harassment complaint and what you can expect to happen when you file.
By Kuliva Wilburn, IMDiversity Contributor
Wilburn: What are the correct procedures that should be followed when you are prepared to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission?
Castro: Step number one would be to visit our web site because you can get pretty good guidance on what are your rights, where you can go to file charges, and where you can go to seek further advice. Our process is relatively simple. It’s a matter of filing a charge with one of our offices.
We then have the responsibility of investigating that charge. We will work with the charging party to seek any witnesses or any supporting information that is necessary to support that charge. If the charge is meritorious, we find cause, and it falls within our priority, certainly we have the wherewithal to prosecute that charge and actually take it to court. So, certainly it’s the first step, and it’s the first step required by law. They have to, and should, come to us first.
My commitment is for a fair and efficient process, so that you don’t languish waiting for an investigation. I am extremely sensitive to that – to customer service with the fundamental understanding that when you’re being discriminated against, what you want is for it to stop. And if you’re going to go to an agency that’s supposed to intervene in your behalf, you want the agency to intervene fairly and swiftly because you want to end this action, and you want to seek redress as quickly as possible. We are trying to do everything possible to accomplish that.
The Comprehensive Enforcement Plan is directed to increasing customer service by reducing the amount of time that it will take us to investigate this charge. It does this by basically taking all of our resources both legal and investigative, and focusing them on cases that are clear priorities at the onset, so that we can prosecute those deliberately and diligently and so that we can process all others through all alternative dispute resolution means. This way we can get quick redress, and try to reduce the amount of time that it takes for any individual to get their wrongs, right.