The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is an agency responsible for enforcing federal laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants and employees because of a person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.
All of the laws enforced by EEOC, except for the Equal Pay Act, require you to file a Charge of Discrimination before you can file a lawsuit alleging employment discrimination under federal law.
If your state has its own anti-discrimination laws and agencies responsible for enforcing those laws, you can file a Charge of Discrimination with that agency. Your charge will automatically be “dual-filed” with the EEOC if federal laws apply.
Who Can File a Charge of Employment Discrimination
Current and former employees, job applicants, and applicants or participants in a training or apprenticeship program can file a charge of discrimination as long as a federal law enforced by the EEOC covers their employer. The anti-discrimination laws do not cover individuals not employed by the employer, such as independent contractors.
When to File
In general, you need to file a charge with the EEOC within 180 days from the date the discrimination took place. The deadline to file a charge is extended to 300 days if a state or local agency enforces a law prohibiting employment discrimination on the same basis.
Where age discrimination is alleged, 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 age discrimination is only prohibited by local law.
In discharge cases, the statute of limitations begins to run from the date the employee is given notice of the discharge, not the effective date of the discharge. If you are alleging that one or more discriminatory events took place (such as a discriminatory demotion and termination), the statute of limitations begins to run from each event. The exception to this rule is in cases involving ongoing harassment, where the statute of limitations begins to run from the date of the last incident of harassment.
How to File a Charge of Employment Discrimination
A Charge of Discrimination can be filed with the EEOC through the EEOC’s online Public Portal, in-person at an EEOC office, by telephone, through a state or local agency, or by mail. A Charge of Discrimination is a signed statement asserting that an employer engaged in employment discrimination and will include the following information:
- Your name, address, email, and telephone number
- The name, address, email, and telephone number of the employer you want to file your charge against
- The number of employees employed there (if known)
- A short description of the actions you believe were discriminatory (for example, you were fired, demoted, harassed)
- When the discriminatory actions took place
- Why you believe you were discriminated against (for example, because of your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, or retaliation)
- Your signature
Although the EEOC does not require you to hire an attorney to file a charge, the experienced employment discrimination lawyers at Schaefer Halleen can assist in filing a timely administrative charge, advise you throughout the EEOC investigative process, and represent you in a lawsuit against your employer.