Received an email link to important documents through the EEOC portal? You better open it. | Donelson Baker

Did you know that the average person receives over 100 emails a day? Or that the average professional sends over 40 emails a day? What about the fact that 80% of users check their email every day? These are just a few statistics published in a recent Earthweb article. But what happens when you ignore an email? Usually you don’t expect anything significant to come from expectation. However, if it is from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), open it and follow the instructions as soon as you receive it to note the deadline by which an individual must file a lawsuit. justice for employment discrimination and to start running over status. limitations for filing a complaint!

In November 2017, the EEOC launched the EEOC Public Portal (Portal), which is a secure web-based application developed to allow individuals to interact with the EEOC regarding an employment discrimination complaint. Through the portal, a charging party (employee) submits a discrimination complaint electronically and the respondent (employer) submits their position statement and supporting documentation. At the end of the investigation, one of the most important automated emails that both parties will receive concerns the issuance of a notice of right to sue. According to the EEOC Public Portal User Guide, the automated email will read as follows:

FROM: United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
To: {Email of Billing Party}; {Email(s) of Billing Party Contact/Legal Representative}
SUBJECT: Important document available for EEOC fees {EEOC number}
United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission {Charge’s Accountable Office}

The EEOC has made a decision regarding the billing number {EEOC Number}. It is very important that you download and retain a copy of this document. You can review this decision by logging into {EEOC Public Portal link}.

This email is an official notification from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding the {EEOC number} fee. Please do not reply to this email.

Privacy Notice: Information in this transmission may contain privileged and confidential information, including information protected by federal and state privacy laws. It is intended solely for the use of the person or persons named above. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any review, broadcast, distribution or duplication of this communication is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact us at [email protected] and destroy all copies of the original message and any attachments.

The Charging Party and Defendant’s legal representative during the EEOC process must also receive this notification by email.

So, what is the relevance of receiving such a notification by e-mail?

Employment discrimination plaintiffs must exhaust administrative remedies before suing in federal court. Exhaustion occurs when the plaintiff files a timely complaint with the EEOC and receives legal notice of right to sue. Under most anti-discrimination laws, a complainant has 90 days to file a civil action after receiving such notice from the EEOC. Prior to November 2017, the notice was mailed to both parties. Most jurisdictions have generally held that the 90-day period does not begin until the plaintiff actually receives the notice in the mail. Now, the notice is uploaded to the portal on the day of its publication and both parties (and their legal representatives) receive an e-mail notification informing them to access the portal to retrieve the document. Parties may also receive such notice by mail.

What happens when you receive this email?

Recently, courts ruled that receipt of such an email notification triggers the 90-day period to file an employment discrimination claim in state or federal court. Failure to promptly open the link could result in the complainant filing an untimely lawsuit.

Recent court cases

Recently in Paniconi v. Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health (2022 WL 1634224 (ED Penn. May 24, 2022)), the Eastern District of Pennsylvania held that the deadline for filing an employment discrimination claim began when the e-mail notification indicating the issuance by the ‘EEOC of a right to sue letter arrived in the employee’s attorney’s inbox. In this case, plaintiff’s attorney and plaintiff received an email from the EEOC advising the attorney to check the EEOC portal for access to an “important document”, which turned out to be the right to sue letter. Neither the complainant nor her lawyer had access to the document until five days later. The plaintiff filed her lawsuit 91 days after receiving the EEOC’s email, and the court found it to be inappropriate.

In April 2022 at McNaney v. Sampson and Morris Group, Inc.. (2022 WL 1017388 (WD Penn. Apr. 5, 2022)), the Western District of Pennsylvania rejected the employee’s argument that the EEOC’s electronic delivery system was inadequate to trigger the 90-day statute of limitations. . In that case, the plaintiff’s attorney admitted receiving a notice from the EEOC advising him that a decision had been made on the charge and “that it [was] It is very important that you download and retain a copy of this document. The lawyer simply did not have access to the documents referenced in the emails. The court concluded that if he had done so, he would have discovered that the letter of authorization to sue had been issued by the EEOC triggering the 90-day period.

In March 2021 at Boyd vs. Monroe Town Hall (2021 WL 1305385 (WD La. Mar. 8, 2021)), the Western District of Louisiana held that the EEOC’s right to sue notice was delivered to the plaintiff by email on a specific date and that he had 90 days from that time to file a lawsuit, even when the email was deposited in the plaintiff’s spam folder. In this case, the plaintiff did not dispute that such email notification could constitute “receipt” to trigger the 90-day time limit to bring an action. Instead, the plaintiff argued that the 90-day period did not begin until he saw the email, which was sent to his spam folder. The court disagreed, finding that the plaintiff had discovered the email in his spam folder almost two months before the 90-day deadline and had ample time to bring an action within the deadline. 90 days, which began to run upon electronic receipt of the EEOC notification. . Accordingly, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint finding that his one-day late filing rendered his motion inappropriate.

Carry

As more and more courts find that email notification of the EEOC can trigger the time limit to bring an employment discrimination lawsuit, employers and/or their legal representative must access the EEOC Portal as soon as they receive notification to obtain any important documents during the EEOC process, which could include the Notice of Right to Sue. You must document the date you receive the email notification from the EEOC that provides the link to access the right to sue notice in order to track the 90-day time limit for a plaintiff to file such an action in justice. If a lawsuit is filed after the 90-day deadline from receipt of the email notification, an employer might have a strong case for the complaint to be dismissed as late.

Harry D. Gonzalez