FAQ: Why is the EEO System So One-Sided?

Question

I was thinking about filing an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint but did some research and found that less than 3% of people who file actually win.  Why is this system so one sided?

Answer

We don’t believe the low percentage of prevailing employees should discourage you.  Here’s why.  It is true that employees prevail at extremely low rates in the EEO arena.  However, many EEO complaints are settled prior to hearing.  This explains why so few employees receive a favorable ruling from an EEOC administrative law judge.  Strong cases tend to settle prior to a hearing while weaker cases tend to make their way before a judge.

When an employee files a formal complaint he is signaling his intent to take the dispute into litigation. In other words, it becomes more adversarial.  The agency is required to complete an appropriate investigation of the complaint within 180 days of the formal complaint filing.  Agency attorney’s will likely assist managers throughout the investigation.  Agency counsel will be assessing the facts of the case and make recommendations to agency leaders regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the complaint.  If the agency determines the employee’s case is factually weak there is little incentive for them to settle.

However, if an employee is armed with strong facts, coupled with reasonable expectations regarding remedies, the agency attorney will likely recommend settlement discussions.  Agency heads generally heed the recommendations of their legal counsel. It is in this phase where many complaints are resolved.  Don’t let the statistics dissuade you from using the EEO complaint process.

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