TL;DR - coworker filed EEOC complaint against employer, HR equity officer/lawyer type wants to interview me, what are my legal obligations and legal rights?

The long(er) version -

Three of us that have been doing the same jobs together (education, administrative support/contact center/whatever needs doing mish-mash) for 12-20 years were reclassified as non-exempt from overtime, which prevented two of us from working our part time jobs teaching classes at night as adjuncts. This dropped my pay by $8k/year and my coworkers by $12k (she teaches summer, I take off to be with my kids)

The provost changed my job title, pay grade, and description so that I could remain exempt and continue to teach. He did not do the same for my coworker.

My coworker has filed an EEOC complaint, claiming discrimination. While some of her complaint seems to be "well, as long as I'm at it" type stuff, I do understand her perspective and fully support her.

But now, the HR equity officer/lawyer person wants to interview me regarding this complaint. I'm in no mood to do the college any favors (my teaching became part of my full time job description, so I'm doing the extra work but not making the extra $), so I am wondering:

1 - What are my legal obligations? The email from the equity/lawyer person in HR to me said "if possible I'd like to interview you regarding this matter". Our HR website and documentation that I have access to are woefully disorganized but a few hours spent looking hasn't found anything regarding me being obligated under my work contract to provide information.

2 - What are my legal rights? Can/should I record the meeting? Can/should I have either an advocate or a known-to-me neutral 3rd party present?

Note that the complaint is not focused on me - I'm just Evidence Item #1. I do support my coworker's complaint, and if the EEOC itself was asking for info I wouldn't even bother to post this.

  • What is an EEOC conplaint? – HorusKol Sep 28 '18 at 3:13
  • @HorusKol The EEOC is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a US Federal Government agency. Hence my "united-states" and "discrimination" tags – ivanivan Sep 28 '18 at 4:00
  • I imagine the answer is no, but are you part of a union? (Part of their job, as well as fighting on the larger political fronts, is to represent you in situations like this) – Bilkokuya Sep 28 '18 at 11:14
  • @Bilkokuya - not as part of my full time job. there is talk of adjunct instructors unionizing, but i'm not sure I would qualify since i'm also a full time employee – ivanivan Sep 28 '18 at 12:27
  • You should really consider getting a private consultation with a lawyer. This may set you back a few hundred dollars, but is probably worth it to make sure you make the right decision for your interests, and at the minimum understand what the ramifications of deciding one way or another really are. While there may be people on this site who have general experience with this, you aren't going to give them your employment contract to read over and they may not be experts on these cases in your local jurisdiction, which may make all the difference. – IllusiveBrian Sep 28 '18 at 15:01

I totally understand why you're annoyed with the college right now (I would be too in your place!)

However I would suggest that it might be worth looking at this request differently - rather than thinking that doing the interview would be doing the college a favor I think it's more likely that you'd be doing your colleague a favor.

Now I am not a lawyer and this should in no way be considered legal advice.

  1. As far as I am aware they can't legally force you to do the interview, however the employer is legally obligated to carry out an internal investigation and since you are still obligated to carry out "reasonable requests" from your employer refusing to do the interview may potentially give them grounds to terminate you for impeding the investigation or insubordination.

  2. This may vary depending upon state and whether you are in a unionized profession. But I don't believe there is a fundamental legal right to any of those things but you are entitled to request them and I believe the EEOC takes a dim view of any employer refusing them without very good reasons (and them refusing your request(s) out of hand would potentially be grounds for you to refuse to proceed as it could make the interview request itself an unreasonable request from them), such behavior from them would likely be seen as "bad faith" by the EEOC and should you feel that a reasonable request was being unfairly denied this should be reported to the EEOC investigator handling your colleague's complaint.

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