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Filing Discrimination Charges With the EEOC

The federal government provides protections against workplace discrimination. If you believe that someone violated your employment rights, you may want to file discrimination charges. You can file a “Charge of Discrimination" with the federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If you want to protect your identity another individual or entity, such as a labor union, may file the charge on your behalf. The EEOC will contact you and your employer within ten days of filing, and then investigate your account. EEOC investigations take a few months to complete, depending on the complexity of the charge.

A charge of discrimination is a signed statement asserting that an entity engaged in employment discrimination. The entity may be one of the following:

  • Employer
  • Labor organizer
  • Union

If the EEOC decides that your employer did violate anti-discrimination laws, it will do one of two things:

  • Seek a settlement or mediation with the employer
  • Take the case to court

Even if the agency decides not to sue, it will forward you a "Notice of Right to Sue" regardless of its findings from the investigation. You may only sue your employer in federal court after filing discrimination charges with the EEOC.

U.S. citizens employed by a U.S. entity operating abroad can also file discrimination charges. You can file with the EEOC district office closest to the employer's U.S. headquarters.

Before Filing Employment Discrimination Charges

Employees or job applicants who wish to file a discrimination charge can visit the EEOC site, The EEOC's Public Portal allows workers to ask about civil rights violations and possible job discrimination claims. Employees can use the portal to electronically sign and file discrimination charges against their employers.

However, the agency does not process discrimination charges online without an online inquiry. After you submit the inquiry, EEOC will interview you. The interview helps determine whether filing charges with the agency is the best course of action. Employees may use the portal to electronically sign and file discrimination charges against their employers, but you can't draft and file a charge by yourself or via an attorney.

Information To Give to the Eeoc

In order for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to determine whether the employer discriminated against you, they need specific information. The EEOC will ask for the following when filing your discrimination charges:

  • Your name, address, and telephone number
  • Your employer's name, address and telephone number, employment agency or other entity that allegedly discriminated (and number of employees)
  • Brief description of the alleged discriminatory violation (harassment, retaliation, etc.)
  • Date(s) of the alleged violation or violations

Review the agency's Overview of Federal Sector EEO Complaint Process if you are a federal employee or applicant.

How to File Discrimination Charges

You can file discrimination charges with the EEOC through various methods. Choose what works best for you.

  • Online: You can use EEOC's Public Portal to submit an inquiry. Following your EEOC interview, you can file online. The EEOC Public Portal provides special instructions if you have 60 days or less to file.
  • In Person at your local EEOC Office: You may schedule an in-office appointment via the EEOC Public Portal or you can do a walk-in appointment. First, locate the EEOC field office nearest you to file discrimination charges in person. Include any documentation that might help shed some light on your case, such as harassing emails or performance evaluations. It also helps to provide the names and contact information of other individuals who know about the alleged violation. You may bring someone with you to the meeting, including an attorney. Let the field office personnel know beforehand if you need an interpreter or some other special assistance.
  • By Telephone: The EEOC does not accept charges via telephone. You may call them at 1-800-669-4000 and submit basic information. An EEOC rep will ask you questions and explain how to file charges.
  • By Mail: Provide basic information if you file by mail. This includes demographics and contacts. You will also provide an explanation of why you believe your employer discriminated against you (national origin, race, religion, gender identity, genetic information, etc.) and affix your signature.
  • Via Fair Employment Practices Agencies: The EEOC calls state and local agencies that enforce anti-discrimination laws Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAS). The EEOC and FEPAS agree to dual filing. This means that you need to only file with one of these.

What To Expect After Filing Charges

After you file a discrimination charge, the EEOC notifies the employers within ten days. Many organizations want to resolve the issue through mediation or settlement.

As the EEOC begins investigating the claim, they assess whether the charge is eligible for mediation. During the investigation phase, both sides submit information. You can ask questions at this time.

If the EEOC finds evidence, they will proceed. They will issue both parties a “Letter of Determination." The letter encourages the parties to resolve the issue through conciliation, an informal process.

Time Limits for Filing Charges

Under federal law, you must file all discrimination charges with the EEOC within 180 days of the alleged violation. If state or local laws also cover the offense, the EEOC extends the filing deadline to 300 days. However, the EEOC will not extend the deadline for age discrimination charges if only a local law prohibits age bias (must be a state law).

As a rule of thumb, you should contact the EEOC immediately after you suspect discriminatory acts by your employer. One exception involves charges under the Equal Pay Act, which don't require filing EEOC charges before filing a lawsuit. Equal Pay Act claims often raise Title VII sex discrimination issues as well. Therefore, the EEOC advises such individuals to also file Title VII charges with the agency within the given time limit.

Federal employees have a much shorter time limit. They must file discrimination charges within 45 days of the alleged violation.

Talk to an Experienced Attorney

Are you facing employment discrimination? Whether you are dealing with unfair wage issues or a hostile environment, you probably want to hold your employer accountable. If your employer discriminated against you because of your sexual orientation, religion, or any other protected characteristic and you wish to file a discrimination complaint, follow these instructions. If you need additional help or if your situation is very complex, talk to a qualified discrimination lawyer attorney.

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