Annually, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) receives tens of thousands of grievances from employees who feel their rights have been violated. In 2018, the EEOC received over 200,000 field office queries and resolved 90,558 charges of discrimination.
The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) is the government agency responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against an employee based on certain protected characteristics. If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination, you can file a complaint with the EEOC.
Based on the information you provide in your complaint and interview, EEOC staff will advise you on whether or not you have a valid case. If they determine that you have a valid complaint, they will authorize you to file a Charge of Discrimination. This is a formal statement that alleges that your employer has unlawfully discriminated against you.
Once you file a Charge of Discrimination, the EEOC will take action by notifying your employer within 10 days. The EEOC will also attempt to resolve the dispute through mediation. If mediation is not successful, the EEOC may begin an investigation into the charge.
If the EEOC determines that unlawful discrimination has occurred, they may take steps to reach a settlement with the employer or file a lawsuit on your behalf. After 180 days, you may also request a “right to sue” which would allow you to file your own lawsuit. The outcome of your complaint will depend on your goals and what you hope to achieve.
If you believe you have been a victim of discrimination, filing a complaint with the EEOC is a crucial step in holding the employer accountable. In the 2020 fiscal year alone, the EEOC was able to secure $439.2 million for victims of discrimination. While there are no guarantees in the outcome of your complaint, there are certain actions you can take to increase your chances of success.
Tips For Winning Your EEOC Complaint
Here are some tips to follow when filing an EEOC complaint:
- Hire a qualified attorney: An attorney can help you navigate the legal process and increase your chances of a favorable outcome. They can also assist in mediation or negotiations, which may be an option before going to court. Even if your case doesn’t go to court, it’s important to have an attorney on your side who understands employment law and can match the employer’s counsel.
- Maintain composure: Mediation can be a sensitive and emotional process. It’s important to keep your emotions in check and maintain a professional demeanor. This is another reason to hire an attorney, as they can guide you on how to prepare and how to behave during the mediation.
- Prepare relevant documentation: Make sure you have all relevant documentation to support your claim. This may include emails, witness statements, or any other evidence that can refute any claims made by the employer. An attorney can help you identify what documentation is relevant and make sure you don’t overlook anything.
- Be truthful: During the mediation, it’s important to be truthful and honest about the circumstances that led to your complaint. Misrepresenting the facts can negatively impact the mediator’s opinion of your credibility.
By following these tips, you can increase your chances of a successful outcome in an EEOC claim. Remember to stay calm, be prepared and work with a qualified attorney to ensure the best possible outcome.
EEOC Filing Procedure
- Collect evidence
- (Optional) Consult with a lawyer
- Contact an EEOC counselor
- File a formal complaint
- Await an Agency decision
- Request a hearing
- File an appeal (if your complaint is dismissed)
- File for reconsideration (if your appeal is dismissed)
- File a lawsuit
The first step in the EEOC filing procedure is to collect evidence. You should gather any evidence that you can on the discrimination, such as copies of any communications or documents that you receive containing harassment. However, it is important to speak to a lawyer before making audio or visual recordings of any harassment as it may be illegal in certain states unless the other party consents to recording.
The next step is to consult with a lawyer, although this step is optional. You do not need a lawyer for the EEOC process, and you will not be able to let one represent you while the complaint is being filed. However, consulting with a lawyer may help you understand what evidence is necessary, and what to expect from the process.
After that, you should contact an EEOC counselor within 45 days of the act of discrimination. Your counselor will take you through the next steps, which may include either direct counseling, or a mediation process with your employer.
If the mediation process is unsuccessful, the next step is to file a formal complaint. Then, you will have to await an agency decision. If you are not satisfied with the agency decision, you can request a hearing. If the complaint is dismissed, you can file an appeal, and if the appeal is dismissed, you can file for reconsideration. As a last resort, you can file a lawsuit.
You are cleared to file a lawsuit if:
- The agency hasn’t provided you with a decision after 180 days
- You have received a decision and not filed an appeal
- You haven’t received any notice on your appeal 180 days after filing
- It has been fewer than 90 days since you received a decision on your appeal
In a Nutshell
In fact, it’s tough to fight for your civil freedoms and civil rights breaches on your own. If you suspect that one of these rights has been infringed, you should see an attorney for advice. An expert civil rights lawyer understands the distinctions between these fundamental rights and may assist you with a potential lawsuit.