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Call Center's Closure Could Put EEOC Claims on Hold

Ishimaru, however, said he was not certain that Congress would provide the money for a contract extension and faulted the agency for not moving faster to draw up a "plan B" when it became clear the call center was scheduled to close Dec. 19.

"The pace was far too slow," he said. Griffin agreed, saying she was "frustrated by the squandering of the time we have had available."

Although union officials and congressional opponents had expressed doubts about the call center's performance during its first two years, Brett A. Brenner, an EEOC official in the office of field programs, said yesterday that the contract staff answers calls in less than a minute and the majority in less than 30 seconds, on average.

In addition to English, he said the call center handles requests in foreign languages, such as Spanish, Mandarin, Creole, Cantonese, Polish, Russian, Arabic and Vietnamese.

When the call center closes next month, callers will be routed to EEOC field offices. Job applicants and employees with questions about employment discrimination may continue to call the agency's toll-free number, 800-669-4000.

"But the quality response service the public has come to expect may lapse, at least for a while," the EEOC said in a statement.

Stephen Barr's e-mail address isbarrs@washpost.com.


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