EEOC has temporarily paused closing its investigations during the current COVID-19 pandemic, and also suspended the issuance of right-to-sue letters. The agency had quietly taken steps beginning on March 21, 2020 to safeguard charging parties’ rights during the pandemic. According to published reports, EEOC chose to publicize that it has suspended closing investigations of charges or issuing right-to-sue letters unless requested by a charging party following the agency’s receipt of a letter by more than 80 employee advocates.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employees have 90 days in which to file a lawsuit in federal district court after they receive a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC. Although the EEOC has not published guidance for employees of private employers, it has provided updated guidance for federal agencies and their employees. For employers that typically monitor the 90-day period following the issuance of a right-to-sue letter to determine whether unresolved EEOC charges and investigations will result in litigation, the EEOC’s suspension extends the period of uncertainty for employers to know whether they will face litigation claims on these pending EEOC matters.