Filing an EEOC Complaint or Charge
By FindLaw Staff | Legally reviewed by Gregg Cavanagh | Last reviewed December 09, 2022
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If you have been a victim of workplace discrimination based on race, color, gender, age, religion, national origin, disability, or any other protected category, one of the first steps for taking legal action would be to file a complaint (referred to as a charge) with the EEOC. The EEOC, or U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is the federal agency in charge of handling the majority of federal employment discrimination claims and is often the starting point for any legal action.
Below you will find information on filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC, including a general timeline for EEOC actions, FAQs, and more. Please select from the links below to get started.
Filing EEOC Complaints
- Filing a Charge of Employment Discrimination -- The associated article provides a basic overview of who can file a discrimination charge, when to file, what a discrimination charge should include, and more.
- EEOC Claims FAQs -- Common questions and answers about the EEOC and the hearing process for a charge of discrimination are provided at this link, including preparation for the hearing and what happens after your charge is heard.
The EEOC Claims Process
- An EEOC Cause of Action Chronology -- A breakdown of what to expect after filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC, including some key deadlines.
- EEOC Charge Processing Procedures -- Answers to questions about how the EEOC handles discrimination charges and when a complaint can go to court.
There are limits to the EEOC's remedies and protections. There is a maximum monetary penalty that can be claimed as damages that arise from discrimination charges. Punitive damages are available when an employer's conduct is shown to be motivated by evil motive or intent or when it involves reckless or callous indifference to the federally protected rights of others.
The Debt Collection Improvement Act amended the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act to require that fines for EEOC violations be increased periodically in order to account for inflation. Attempts to use the punitive damages available to circumvent the damages cap have been, at this stage, ineffective. However, attorney's fees may be available in excess of the statutory damages cap.
Both employer and employee groups have criticized the EEOC. Employer groups have claimed that the agency unnecessarily interferes with employers' businesses and drives up the costs and risks of employment. Employee groups argue that the penalties that can be assessed by the EEOC are insufficient to deter violations and that the cost of prosecuting cases before the agency discourages the filing of charges.
This ongoing debate may result in changes to the law in the future. Be certain to check on the status of the law prior to beginning legal action.
Let an Attorney Help You File Your EEOC Complaint or Charge
Making and prosecuting an EEOC claim can be complicated and your opponent will likely hire an attorney to assist in their defense. You deserve to have someone on your side to ensure that your rights are protected and the strongest possible claim is made.
Contact a local employment law attorney to discuss your concerns and to learn more about how they can help you seek justice.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified employment discrimination attorney to make sure your rights are protected.