EEOC’s Decision to Resume Issuing Right to Sue Notices Is a Serious Blow to Civil Rights Enforcement

(Washington, D.C.) Yesterday, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) announced it is resuming issuing “right to sue” notices by mail. Once a person receives a right to sue notice, they have only 90 days to file an employment discrimination case in federal court. If the person misses the deadline, the court usually will dismiss the person’s lawsuit. In March, after a letter from numerous civil rights groups demanded action, the EEOC announced that it would suspend issuing right to sue notices in recognition of the effects of COVID-19.

The following is a statement by Sharyn Tejani, Director of the Legal Network for Gender Equity which is housed at and administered by the National Women’s Law Center Fund:

“The EEOC’s  decision to re-start issuing right to sue notices compromises the civil rights protections of people across the country. Once someone receives a right to sue notice, they have only 90 days to file a civil rights lawsuit in federal court. At this moment of a pandemic—when millions of people are facing evictions, attorneys are working remotely and often are not able to collect their mail, and the U.S. Postal  Service is facing its own difficulties —this is a callous move that deals a serious blow to civil rights enforcement. And it is part of a series of recent decisions by the EEOC that undercuts workers’ rights. Just last week, EEOC Chair Dhillon unilaterally announced changes to how the agency will conduct mediation and conciliation. These changes were made without giving prior notice, public comment, or input by other Commissioners. During this moment of national crisis, when many businesses are rightly facing calls to respond to race and sex discrimination and harassment in their workforces, the EEOC should undertake proactive measures to protect workers—not weaken enforcement.”