On December 5, 2007, P&K Founding Principal Joseph Kaplan was among a group of federal-sector EEO professionals invited by EEOC Commissioner Christine Griffin to hear, and react to, some suggestions the EEOC is considering for improving the investigation of EEO complaints by Federal agencies. This meeting follows one held earlier in the year, also chaired by Commissioner Griffin and attended by Mr. Kaplan, in which Commissioner Griffin sought the views of Mr. Kaplan and others as to the problems with the investigation process.
At this recent briefing, among suggested changes to the EEO investigation process discussed were new timeliness requirements for agencies to accept complaints and to assign them to an investigator; requiring investigators to develop investigation plans; and limiting the time deadlines for amending complaints. Also discussed was a potential pilot program for a scheme whereby cases would be prioritized for investigation. Under this scheme, there would be a two-track system. A predetermined list of more serious cases would be guaranteed a hearing; less serious cases would be investigated in a shorter time frame and result in a final agency decision, without a hearing, which would be automatically appealed to the EEOC. In the appeal, the employee could show why a hearing should have been held. Commissioner Griffin stressed that this two-track approach was merely a suggestion at this point, that it would be piloted first, and that no final decision had been made. Also discussed was that to ensure an increase in the quality of the agencies’ investigations, the EEOC is considering that all EEO investigators must go through a rigorous training program and be certified as EEO investigators by the EEOC before being permitted to undertake investigations.