Local EEOC director explains process of investigating discrimination

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – In a rare interview, the local director of the federal agency that investigates claims of workplace discrimination spoke to 10 On Your Side.

Norberto Rosa-Ramos recently moved to Hampton Roads from Richmond to be the director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s local office in Norfolk.

Rosa-Ramos said his office is investigating whether or not employees at the Newport News Circuit Court Clerk’s Office were passed over for promotions based on their race.

Barry Harmon told 10 On Your Side Tuesday that he’s worked there as a Deputy Clerk I for 13 years and never received a promotion, while more recently hired individuals did. Earlier this month, Nicole Allmondjoy told 10 On Your Side she was passed over for a job that was given to a woman hired after her. Both employees say it happened because of their race.

They are just two of the 23 employees at the Newport News Circuit Court Clerk’s Office.

Although he couldn’t talk about those claims specifically, Rosa-Ramos did explain how his office investigates claims like that. He said, once a complaint is filed, investigators collect the documents to support the claim and conduct an interview.

Norberto Rosa-Ramos
Norberto Rosa-Ramos

“Once the interview is completed, we will draft a charge of discrimination, then we process the charge by sending the charge to the employer,” Rosa-Ramos said.

Then, he said, the employer must respond to the claims by agreeing to mediation or providing a legal response, with the goal of a voluntary settlement.

“The company who is found in violation of the law is required to make the person whole again. That form of payment is based on the number of employees,” he said.

According to the EEOC’s website:

If we haven’t found a violation of the law, we will send you a Notice-of-Right-to-Sue. This notice gives you permission to file a lawsuit in a court of law. If we find a violation, we will try to reach a voluntary settlement with the employer. If we cannot reach a settlement, your case will be referred to our legal staff (or the Department of Justice in certain cases), who will decide whether or not the agency should file a lawsuit. If we decide not to file a lawsuit, we will give you a Notice-of-Right-to-Sue.

10 On Your Side has learned, right now there are more than 700 pending cases being handled by just four investigators at the Norfolk EEOC office. The local office covers all of Hampton Roads and all the way up to Richmond.

Last year, the Norfolk office only took one case to court. Rosa-Ramos stressed the fact that every claim is different and the more employees involved in making claims the more complex the investigation can be. Some take up to a year to resolve.

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