We previously reported that the EEOC had filed suit against United Health Programs of America Inc. after workers alleged that they were forced to say “I love you” to co-workers on account of their employers’ beliefs in “Onionhead.” The suit also alleges that employees were forced to engage in prayer, wear Onionhead-related pins, and burn candles in the workplace. (Just in case any of you were confused, we really meant Onionhead; this is not a fake news post from the Onion.)
United Health Programs of America Inc. asked for permission to file a motion in federal court to bar the EEOC from contacting its employees. The motion alleges that employees were sent a letter that laid out “skewed facts” and seemed to imply that a response to the letter was mandatory. According to the motion, if employees did not respond to the letter, they were called by the EEOC and sent a follow-up letter.
It will be interesting to see how the Court rules on the motion. If the allegations in the motion are true, then employers should be aware that the EEOC may employ aggressive solicitation methods. Of perhaps bigger concern for employers is how to respond to employees who complain about being contacted by the EEOC.
Employers cannot tell employees that they must not cooperate with the EEOC lest they face claims that they interfered with the employees’ rights to report discrimination. Employers can, however, tell employees that they do not have to cooperate with the EEOC if they do not wish to do so. It is also fine to tell employees that if they do speak with the EEOC, that they should tell the truth. Employers should be careful to also let employees know that no action will be taken against the employee if the employee chooses to speak with the EEOC.