The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued a final rule on conciliation.
The EEOC said the final rule “brings greater transparency and consistency to the conciliation process and helps ensure that the commission meets its statutory obligations on conciliation.”
Conciliation is an informal, confidential process required under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, with a goal of resolving discrimination complaints before litigation.
The commission, which approved the final rule by a 3-2 vote Jan. 7, said it had not made any significant changes to its conciliation regulatory procedures since issuing them in 1977 and that the process faces various obstacles.
“Notably, approximately one-third of respondents who receive a reasonable cause finding refuse to participate in conciliation,” the EEOC said.
“Overall, more than half of the cases in which the commission finds reasonable cause that discrimination occurred are not resolved through conciliation.”
The Supreme Court addressed conciliation in a 2015 case, Mach Mining LLC v. EEOC, when it confirmed that the process plays an important role in achieving the Congressional goal of ending employment discrimination.
The commission said changes in the final rule are “straightforward revisions” designed to make conciliation “a more powerful mechanism to halt and remedy unlawful discriminatory employment practices in a greater percentage of charges without litigation—either by the commission or by employees.”
It plans to achieve this by implementing requirements regarding the information the EEOC must provide before and during the conciliation process, in particular with respect to its findings and demands.
The requirements “ensure the commission will provide certain information—the essential facts and the law supporting the claim, findings, and demand.”
This disclosure of information by the commission will facilitate the respondents’ ability to identify specific discriminatory practices, which, in turn, will encourage voluntary, prospective remedial action.
The commission hopes that the increased information disclosures will allow respondents to more accurately assess their potential liability, and will help “focus discussions in a way more likely to achieve a meeting of the minds.”