If you believe you’ve been the target of discrimination at work, you’re probably wondering what to do. First, see an expert EEOC attorney who has experience both in dealing with the EEOC and in litigating discrimination cases.
Most people don’t know that you must file your discrimination complaint (called a “Charge of Discrimination”) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) before filing a lawsuit. Although an individual is permitted to file a charge of discrimination, it’s much better first to meet with an experienced EEOC attorney who knows how to avoid legal pitfalls.
We have handled literally hundreds of EEOC claims. So before you get in over your head and you need help to file an EEOC charge, contact Gardner Employment Law.
What Is the EEOC?
The EEOC is the federal agency that oversees discrimination claims filed by employees. The laws that govern these claims include the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights laws, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The EEOC’s responsibilities include attempting to bring the parties together to conciliate, or to work things out without going to the courthouse. This is called the “conciliation process.” The EEOC offers a mediation process for no charge. The decision whether to mediate must be made before the Charge is ever assigned to an investigator.
You file your Charge online at the EEOC’s public portal. Should mediation fail, the intake person will assign your Charge to an investigator who reviews your claims and sends you a notice by email. The investigator next sends a copy of your Charge to the employer who must file a response, called a “Position Statement.” As the “Charging Party,” you are then given an option to file a reply. All of the filings are analyzed by the investigator, who may contact you with questions or a request for more information. The matter must remain with the EEOC for a minimum of 180 days, roughly six months.
It is rare for the EEOC to expend its limited resources to become involved in dispute. Most often, the end of the process will be the EEOC’s issuing you a “Notice of Right to Sue, which permits an employee to file suit in court if desired. Also, your date of receipt of this notice starts the running of an important deadline within which to file suit. If you miss that deadline, your claim is forever barred.
Beware of missing a filing deadline! You may be accidentally barred from ever going to court. An employee must file the “Charge of Discrimination” within 180 days of the date when the employee definitely learns that he or she has been subjected to an “adverse employment action,” usually termination or other severe action by the employer which the employee has reason to believe was based on discrimination. There is a technical extension to 300 days in which to file the charge. However, it is safer to satisfy the 180-day deadline.
When the employee receives the Notice of Right to Sue, he or she then has only 90 days to file suit in federal court (or 60 days to file suit in state court). These numbers are precise. In other words, 180 days is not 6 months; 90 days is not 3 months; 300 days is not 10 months. You must count the exact number of days to be certain.
Civil Rights Division of the Texas Workforce Commission
The First "Writing"
The “Charge of Discrimination” is the first time an employee’s legal clam is committed to writing. This is an important step in the process. The words that you use can make a difference later in your lawsuit. Getting it worded correctly matters.
Before you attempt to go to the EEOC by yourself, contact an employment lawyer who is an expert in this area of the law. If you need help at the EEOC, make the right call. Start with us.