Perhaps you have filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and you have been requested to respond to the employer’s position statement. But, you do not know where to start. You may be asking yourself a few questions such as “What is a position statement?” and “What should be included in my response to the employer’s position statement?”. This article will, hopefully, answer some of your questions concerning your response to the employer’s position statement.
A position statement is the employer’s responsive statement to the claims presented in the employee’s charge of discrimination. It is simply the employer’s opportunity to share its version of the facts. While the EEOC states a position statement should be “clear, concise, and complete,” position statements are often the complete opposite. They are generally inundated with policies that are unrelated to the claims at hand and a host of issues concerning the employee’s performance. However, do not panic—here are a few tips:
- 1. Read the employer’s position statement in its entirety – The purpose of this step is to ensure that you understand the basis of why the employer feels that it has not violated the law. When employees do not have attorneys, this is usually the first time when the employee learns of the employer’s position.
- 2. Review any supporting documents or exhibits – Many employees fail to take this step seriously. These documents often reveal some of the evidence that an employer may use against you in litigation. It is important that you confirm that the documents are authentic and accurate. For instance, if you had no disciplinary history during your employment but the company has submitted documented disciplinary actions, you should inform the EEOC that the respective documents are inaccurate.
- 3. Re-read the employer’s position statement and look for potential arguments – During this read through, take detailed notes of misrepresentation and clearly inconsistent statements. This will help you craft potential arguments to support your claim that the employer violated the law. For example, if, at your termination meeting, the employer states that it terminated you because you used profanity in the workplace, then, in its position statement, it claims that it terminated you for performance issues, this shifting and changing reason may support that the employer’s stated reason for termination is false. It is important that you can point this out because it helps you prove your case of an illegal termination.
- 4. Gather evidence that supports your claim and/or refutes the employer’s claim – As with many things in the law, evidence is always helpful. This is your opportunity to present your best case to a neutral party. If you have emails or text messages where your boss makes explicit discriminatory comments, I can assure you the EEOC wants to review that evidence. On another note, if the employer alleges that you were terminated because of performance, but one month prior you received an excellent written performance evaluation, you should submit it to the EEOC. This evidence would undermine the employer’s credibility.
- 5. Prepare an outline and organize the arguments that you intend to present to the EEOC – Now that you know the employer’s position and have reviewed the evidence you are almost ready to prepare your response. Evaluate your potential arguments and determine which arguments are stronger. Start your response with the stronger arguments and focus your attention there. Don’t spend too much time on weak arguments and don’t feel like you must use every potential argument.
- 6. Draft a response – This step should be easier because you have the foundation for a clear, concise, and complete response. After you have your first draft, continue to read and revise your response.
Responding to a position statement can be intimidating, but you do not have to do it alone. If the EEOC has asked you to submit a response to the employer’s position statement, you should immediately contact me to discuss your case so that I can assist you in submitting a clear, concise, and complete response.