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Filing an EEOC Complaint or Charge

Have you been a victim of workplace discrimination as a job applicant or employee? Was it based on race, color, gender, age, religion, national origin, disability, or any other protected category? If so, one of the first steps for taking legal action would be to file a complaint, referred to as a charge.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles most federal employment discrimination claims. The EEOC handles charges for prohibited employment practices. It is often the starting point for any legal action.

The EEOC enforces federal civil rights laws, including Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. The laws enforced by the EEOC, except the Equal Pay Act, require you to file a charge before filing a lawsuit for discrimination. The EEOC enforces federal civil rights laws. They enforce laws that protect workers from discrimination and retaliation because of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex (including sexual harassment, sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy)
  • National Origin
  • Age discrimination
  • Disability
  • Genetic Information

Under the laws enforced by the EEOC, you may also have laws under other federal, local, or state laws.

Below is 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

If you believe you have experienced employment discrimination, you can file a charge of discrimination.

  • Filing a Charge of Employment Discrimination provides an overview of EEOC complaints. It explains who can file a discrimination charge, when to file it, what it should include, and more.
  • The EEOC public portal allows you to get started with an EEOC inquiry and to determine if the EEOC can assist you.
  • The EEOC provides a FAQ page for common questions and answers about the EEOC and the hearing process for a charge of discrimination. This page also includes information about preparing for the hearing and what happens after your charge is heard.

The EEOC Claims Process

The EEOC complaint process begins when you contact the EEOC office. You may contact the EEOC by e-mail, using the telephone number for the EEOC office, or by visiting the local agency. Contacting the EEOC about a potential violation of federal laws regarding job discrimination initiates the claims process.

There are limits to the EEOC's remedies and protections. There is a maximum monetary penalty for damages arising from discrimination charges. Punitive damages, available in some cases, may be available when an employer's conduct involves evil intent. Such damages may also be available for 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 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 addition to the statutory damages cap.

Both employer and employee groups have criticized the EEOC. Employer groups claim that the agency unnecessarily interferes with employers' businesses and that it drives up the costs and risks of employment. Employee groups argue that the penalties that the EEOC can assess are insufficient to deter violations, and also assert 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 sure to check on the status of the law before beginning legal action.

Let an Attorney Help You File Your EEOC Complaint or Charge

If you experienced violations of anti-discrimination laws, contact an employment law attorney. Making and prosecuting an EEOC claim can be complicated. Your opponent will likely hire an attorney to assist in their defense. You deserve to have someone on your side. Ensure your rights are protected, and you make the strongest possible discrimination complaint.

You can also discuss your complaint of discrimination and the different complaint processes with an attorney. An attorney can explain the procedures related to job discrimination and EEOC investigations. To learn how an employment law attorney can help, use the contact information at the employment law attorney locator today.

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Contact a qualified employment discrimination attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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