U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

VI. Time for Response

The Commission is required to respond to a FOIA request within 20 business days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays. The time to respond does not begin until the request is received by a FOIA component, the Legal Counsel or designee or the district director or designee of an entity or office authorized by the EEOC to process FOIA requests. This does not mean that the agency is required to send out the releasable documents within those 20 days. The FOIA requires that EEOC send you a letter informing you of its decision within those 20 days; it can then send out the documents within a reasonable time after its decision or the receipt of fees owed. The FOIA permits the EEOC to toll (stop) the statutory time period one time to seek information from a requester and to toll the statutory time period as many times as necessary to clarify fee assessments.

The response time may be extended for an additional ten business days when: (1) responsive records need to be collected from field offices; (2) the request involves a "voluminous" amount of records which must be located, compiled, and reviewed; or (3) the EEOC must consult with another agency which has a substantial interest in the responsive material. When such an enlargement is needed, the EEOC will notify you in writing and indicate when a response will be made. If the EEOC is not able to respond to your request even with a ten-business day extension, it will notify you of this in writing and offer you the opportunity to modify or limit your request. Alternatively, you may agree to a different timetable for the processing of your request.

Under the FOIA, EEOC may also toll (stop) processing your request to seek additional information or clarifying information about fees from you. If this occurs, you will be notified in writing prior to the expiration of the 20 working days. The time to respond to your appeal will resume when EEOC receives your response to its request(s) for information.

When a determination on your request is not made within the deadline described above and you have not agreed to a different response deadline, you may file suit in federal court to obtain a response. The court may conclude that EEOC’s failure to comply within the statutory time is justified if:

  • You have unreasonably refused to limit your request or to accept an alternate timetable for response;
  • The EEOC is experiencing an unexpected, substantial increase in the number of requests received; or
  • The EEOC demonstrates that it has a backlog of requests that were received before yours, that it processes its requests on a first-come/first-served basis, and that it is making reasonable progress in reducing its backlog.