When to Settle an EEO Complaint

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The decision to settle an EEO Complaint will be based on a wide variety of factors and will largely be unique case to case. Equal Employment Opportunity regulations require agencies to make reasonable efforts to settle complaints of discrimination as soon as possible during and throughout administrative complaint processing. See, 29 CFR 1614.603. Simply stated, an EEO Complaint may be settled at any time during the entire process from Informal Counseling (precomplaint stage) to EEOC Hearing.  Many Complaints are settled between the formal complaint and the Final Agency Decision (Hadley).  However, there are certain defined “periods” during which settlements commonly occur.  Specifically,

It is important to note an agency does not require a finding of “wrongdoing” to enter into a settlement with a complainant.  Further, EEOC regulations at  29 CFR 1614.504 (a) provide that any settlement agreement knowingly and voluntarily agreed to between affected parties reached at any stage of the complaint process will be binding on both parties.  

The decision to settle an EEO Complaint is one thing.  Agency transaction of the settlement behind the scenes is like watching sausage be made and it can make you physically ill.  There are various levels of approval and concurrence required, legal review, consulting with human resources on how to effect any associated personnel actions, payroll and fiscal offices may need to be contacted for approval or check issuance, the complainant may need to be “vendorized” to allow them to receive payment, and most agencies are required to submit “remedy tickets” to payroll processors such as DFAS before back pay components can be paid.  

Our consultants have worked all ends of settlement agreements on behalf of agencies and complainants and can help guide you by ensuring the proper language and time constraints are included in settlement language.  We have been involved in hundreds of settlements including writing and transacting settlement agreements and seeking enforcement or claims of breach.


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