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On Monday, August 3rd, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) resumed sending out notices that start the clock running on workers' deadline to sue employers for violating federal anti-discrimination law, four months after hitting pause on right-to-sue letters in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The Commission stated that “the time is right to lift temporary restrictions put in place” in late March that paused the agency's issuance of certain documents that typically accompany its completion of investigations of bias, harassment or retaliation charges filed by aggrieved workers.

While the EEOC noted it has kept up enforcement of workplace anti-discrimination laws amid the pandemic, it had to take numerous steps over the past few months to ensure that the agency's work is in line with public health guidelines, including pressing pause on the sending out of charge closure documents. The U.S. Department of Justice will also resume its issuance of notices when it probes alleged civil rights violations involving state and local governments, referred to it by the EEOC.

When the EEOC concludes a probe of allegedly unlawful behavior, a claimant can receive right-to-sue notice, which is generally issued when the EEOC finds reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred but was unable to resolve the charge as part of the pre-suit conciliation process, and doesn't sue the employer on its own. It gives the aggrieved worker 90 days to file suit. At the end of an investigation, the EEOC can also issue a so-called dismissal and notice of rights if it is unable to determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that bias took place. That also gives workers permission to file a federal court suit within 90 days.

If you have questions about how this development may impact your organization, please contact Johnson & Bell Shareholders, Joseph F. Spitzzeri, Genevieve M. LeFevour, Christopher J. Carlos or Brian C. Langs.