The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is implementing an online charge notification and response system called “ACT Digital.” Phase I implementation has begun in the areas covered by the Charlotte District office, which include Raleigh, Charlotte and Greensboro, NC; Greenville, SC; and Richmond and Norfolk, VA. Other EEOC offices will soon join the pilot, and the system is expected to be operational in all EEOC offices by October 1, 2015. EEOC has published a User Guide and FAQs about ACT Digital on their website.
When the EEOC receives a Charge, it will send the company a paper document with login instructions for the ACT Digital portal and a system generated password. Once logged in, the company can update its contact information to supply the EEOC with a designated representative to receive electronic notification of future charges, view and print the Charge, accept mediation (if it is offered for the particular charge), and upload a response to the Charge. The portal cannot be used to request extensions of time. Companies can pro-actively call their local EEOC office to provide an email address and information about the individual they wish to designate to receive Charges, or they can wait until a Charge is filed against them to designate a representative. Until a charge is filed, the portal cannot be accessed.
If a company has designated a representative to receive email communication and the electronic Charge notification is screened out by a spam filter or other security mechanism, the company of course will not receive notice and therefore will not respond. During the pilot phase, if the company takes no action within 10 days of receiving the electronic notification, the ACT Digital system will alert the EEOC, which will contact the employer via phone or regular mail. Prudent employers should set their spam filter to always allow emails ending in .gov.
Michael Whitlow, who is the point of contact for ACT Digital in the counties covered by the Charlotte District Office, told me that the EEOC is looking for feedback on the system from the employer community in order to make it more user-friendly, and that the EEOC hopes that ACT Digital will improve the speed and efficiency of Charge processing.