Commonly Asked Questions about the EEOC
What is the EEOC?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or (“EEOC”) is a federal administrative agency that is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, transgender status, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.
What are some of the laws that the EEOC enforces?
Some examples of the laws that the EEOC enforces are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), Title I of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
Do all Employment Discrimination cases have to be filed with the EEOC?
No. While the EEOC does have enforcement authority over most employment discrimination matters, there are some exceptions. For example, the EEOC does not have jurisdiction over employers with less than 15 employees (20 employees in age discrimination cases). Also, there are some cases that do not require an EEOC investigation before a lawsuit can be filed, such as claims under the Equal Pay Act (EPA).
However, in most employment discrimination cases, you must first file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC before you can file a lawsuit against your employer. The is a process known as, “Exhausting your Administrative Remedies.”
If a litigant were file suit directly against their employer without first exhausting their administrative remedies, their case would be summarily dismissed by the Court.
How much time do I have to file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC?
Typically, you must file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC within 180 days of the last discrimination. However, this deadline may be extended to 300 days if there is a state or local agency that enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis. The rules are slightly different for age discrimination charges. For age discrimination, the filing deadline is only extended to 300 days if there is a state law prohibiting age discrimination in employment and a state agency or authority enforcing that law. The deadline is not extended if only a local law prohibits age discrimination.
What happens after I file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC?
Once you file the Charge of Discrimination, the EEOC may try to schedule your case for a mediation (settlement conference), to see if the parties can reach an early agreement. If both parties do not agree to mediation, or a mediation is unsuccessful, then your case will be assigned to an investigator, who will give the employer an opportunity to respond to the allegations, and then investigate your allegations of discrimination or harassment.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the EEOC might try to settle your case, or they might pursue your case in Court. However, the most likely outcome is that the EEOC will issue a Notice of Right To Sue, allowing you to pursue your case directly against your employer in court.
How much time do I have to file a lawsuit after I receive my Notice of Suit Rights from the EEOC?
The Notice of Right to Sue, as it is frequently called, specifically states that an employee has 90 days to file a lawsuit from the date they receive the Right to Sue. Failure to file within that time will result in your case being forever precluded.
What do I do if I think I am being harassed or discriminated against at work?
If you believe you are experiencing harassment or discrimination at work, please feel free to contact Chip Clark at Goodin Abernathy, LLP for a free case evaluation.
This guide is not legal advice but is for general information purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading this guide.