Earlier today, we noted that an employee’s participation in a purely internal investigation is not covered by Title VII’s participation clause.
But, on the other hand, an internal employer investigation initiated as a result of an EEOC charge is typically held to constitute an “investigation” within the meaning of the “participation” clause. As stated in Clover v. Total Sys. Servs., Inc., 176 F.3d 1346, 1353 (11th Cir. 1999):
[A]n employer receiving a form notice of charge of discrimination knows that any evidence it gathers after that point and submits to the EEOC will be considered by the EEOC as part of the EEOC investigation. Though this is an indirect means of gathering evidence relevant to investigating a charge of discrimination, the EEOC considers employer-submitted evidence on an equal footing with any evidence it gathers from other sources. Because the information the employer gathers as part of its investigation in response to the notice of charge of discrimination will be utilized by the EEOC, it follows that an employee who participates in the employer’s process of gathering such information is participating, in some manner, in the EEOC’s investigation.