By Deryn Sumner, June 14, 2017
Last month, the EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office held an event that provides an opportunity to agency representatives, complainant’s advocates, and others to informally meet the administrative judges and ask questions. I’ll begin this article with two caveats. One, although I have attended the event in the past, I did not attend this year. So my report comes from those in my office who did attend. And two, although these reflect the viewpoints of the administrative judges in the Baltimore Field Office, I think they are good pointers for anyone appearing before the EEOC. However, regardless of what any other administrative judge tells you, always review and follow any requirements set forth by your assigned administrative judge in the Case Management Order and any other orders.
With those qualifying statements out of the way, here are the highlights of what the Administrative Judges discussed during the event in Baltimore.
- When responding to discovery requests, make sure you are not just providing boilerplate response, as that’s not really a response, and the administrative judge may conclude that your side has waived its right to fully respond.
- Before filing a motion to compel discovery, make sure you have had substantive meet and confer communications. Some judges in Baltimore require you to have discussed the deficiencies by telephone before filing a motion. And some judges (including several in the Washington Field Office) require that you convene a telephone conference with both the other side and the administrative judge before filing a motion to compel.
- If you do end up filing a motion to compel, parties should list the interrogatory in question, provide the other side’s response, and explain why the response is deficient and why the information being requested is material to your case. Although you should attach the relevant documents, make sure you have argued your points in the motion.
- When filing a dispositive motion, include an enumerated statement of facts and include all facts that you are referencing in your argument and analysis in this statement of facts. The analysis section will be much shorter if you have already stated the facts.
- If you haven’t received a ruling on a dispositive motion and there’s a hearing date approaching, make a request for an oral argument on the pending motion or request a status conference.
- Remember that under the revised MD-110, agencies must ask administrative judges for permission to obtain medical documents from pro se complainants.
I don’t know if other EEOC field or district offices hold such events. If they don’t, they should, as it is an excellent opportunity for a dialogue about what is important to everyone involved in the federal sector EEO process. Sumner@FELTG.com