Developments at the EEOC: On October 5, 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a press release announcing a change in how it captions federal-sector decisions from the EEOC Office of Federal Operations (OFO). This change resolved a long-standing problem with giving the names of parties in the captions to OFO decisions.
Ordinarily, EEO complaints in the federal-sector administrative complaints process are treated as confidential, with the exception of appellate decisions from OFO that are published. For many years, the EEOC had received criticism for listing the actual names of complainants in OFO decisions, while redacting the names of all other persons involved with the underlying EEO complaint, including managers who had been found to have engaged in discrimination or reprisal for protected EEO activity. The EEOC first attempted to resolve this disparity in 2013 by redacting the names of complainants from OFO decisions as well. This move, however, proved extremely problematic for litigants looking to cite EEOC decisions in litigation. Every decision was then captioned “Complainant v. [Agency]”, making it extremely cumbersome to short-cite decisions in motions and briefs and resulting in confusion.
To resolve this problem, the EEOC will now publish OFO decisions with a randomly assigned alias given to the complainant. As the EEOC explained in its press release, “Beginning on Oct. 1, 2015, all federal sector appellate decisions issued for publication will use a randomly generated name as a substitute for the name of the complainant, rather than the generic term ‘Complainant.’ This randomly generated name will consist of a first name and last initial, and will be assigned using a computer program that selects names from a list of pseudonyms bearing no relation to the complainant’s actual name. A complainant who wishes to be identified by his or her name in a case caption rather than by a randomly generated name may submit a written request to EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations.”