For many years, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has allowed employers to seek official government opinions on various fact situations in determining legal compliance, such as under the Wage/Hour laws. The right to seek advance government opinions on such issues was suspended during the Obama Administration, but reinstated during the Trump Administration. In December of 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that the public can now seek its official position on potentially unclear aspects of federal civil rights laws, which can provide a defense to alleged violations.
EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon said in a statement that: "One of my priorities has been for the Commission to provide clear and accurate guidance to the public. . . . The new process for requesting formal opinion letters is a significant step towards allowing the Commission to address areas of the law that may be unclear."
Thus, now members of the public may request an opinion letter from the EEOC in the application of a specific question or factual scenario, but the EEOC will retain the discretion on whether it will respond to these requests.
This is part of our January 2021 Newsletter.
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