The BOLI Complaint Process
Regardless of whether you are the employee or an employer involved in a Bureau of Labor and Industries (“BOLI”) grievance process, it can be disconcerting. The best way to address your concern is to fully understand your rights, responsibilities, and the process in general. The following is a guide to the different parts of a BOLI complaint.
Step one: the complaint
The employee usually contacts BOLI by phone and speaks with an admissions officer. If BOLI determines that the employee may have a factual basis for a complaint and the complaint is timely (generally within one year of the action that forms the basis of the complaint), a questionnaire is sent to the employee. Once the questionnaire is returned, the intake officer drafts a discrimination complaint which is then signed by the complainant. BOLI then opens a case and assigns a case number and Civil Rights Principal Investigator. If the basis for filing is covered by federal and Oregon law, and if the complaint meets EEOC guidelines, the complaint is automatically “dual-filed” with the EEOC.
Step Two: Employer Notified
The employer will be notified that a charge has been filed with BOLI and/or the EEOC and will be provided with the name and contact information of the investigator assigned to the case.
The letter will also indicate when the employer’s response to the complaint is due, usually 14 to 21 days, but sometimes this time frame can be extended.
Step Three: Document Production
BOLI will request pertinent documentation of the allegation and defenses from both the employer and the employee. Typically, this will include the personnel file, text messages and/or emails between the claimant and the employer or other personnel, as well as anything the employee can use to prove their claim or anything that the employer can use to deny the claims.
Step Four: Position Statement
Within 14 to 21 days, the employer must file a “Statement of Position.” It is “mandatory” although the employer has the option not to respond, but if the employer does not respond, BOLI will make a factual determination based solely on the information provided by the employee. A position statement sets out the employer’s perspective on the incident and must address each of the employee’s claims and correct any factual errors in the employee’s complaint.
Step Five: Telephone interview with the employee
After the employer provides a position statement, the employee will be contacted for a telephone interview. The interview covers each discriminatory act declared in the complaint and its date of occurrence. The employee must be able to tell the investigator how each discriminatory act relates to his or her protected class(es). The investigator may ask the employee to provide the following information: identify witnesses capable of corroborating relevant facts; identify the comparators (other employees or individuals who, in a situation similar to yours, were treated the same or differently by the respondent); provide copies of any relevant documents in your possession or available to him (the investigator may ask you to make reasonable efforts to obtain certain information, such as medical records or unemployment hearing transcripts); and, describe the details of any relevant documents that are not available to him.
(Optional) Step Six: Fact Finding Conference
During an investigation, the investigator may require attendance at an investigative conference. The purpose of an investigative conference is to identify points of agreement and disagreement and, if possible, resolve any disputes and resolve the complaint.
Step Seven: Completion of the Investigation
Once the investigator completes his investigation, the information is transmitted to the BOLI Division Management. If the Division finds substantial evidence of a violation, a formal Notice of Substantial Evidence Determination is issued and BOLI will likely attempt to mediate a settlement. If no violation is found, the Division dismisses the case and notifies the complainant and respondent of the dismissal.
Finally, once the case is closed, the complainant is provided with information about the possible right to file a civil action in court.
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