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Press Release 04-11-1997


WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued policy guidance clarifying that the right of an individual to file a charge of employment discrimination with the Commission cannot be waived. The guidance also states that an individual's right to testify, assist, or participate in a Commission proceeding cannot be waived.

The policy guidance explains that such waivers are contrary to EEOC's obligation to represent the public interest in the enforcement of the equal employment opportunity laws and are prohibited by the statutes enforced by the Commission.

In issuing the policy, EEOC Chairman Gilbert F. Casellas said, "The principles set forth in this guidance are central to EEOC's ability to represent effectively the public interest in enforcing the civil rights laws. Agreements that prevent individuals from filing charges or cooperating with EEOC investigations improperly deprive the Commission of important evidence of discrimination, making it more difficult to fight discrimination in the workplace."

The new policy guidance further emphasizes that the no-waiver position is fully consistent with the Commission's strong support of voluntary agreements to resolve employment discrimination disputes. For example, while parties who are involved in disputes cannot agree to keep evidence of discrimination from the EEOC, they will otherwise have the full benefit of settlement agreements, so long as those agreements are valid under applicable law.

The text of the policy guidance will be available on EEOC's web-site at shortly after the release of the document. You can also obtain a copy by writing to EEOC's Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs, 1801 L Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20507.

EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits employment discriminating against persons 40 years of age or older; the Equal Pay Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.