Filing an EEOC Complaint or Charge
If you have been a victim of workplace discrimination based on race, gender, age, religion, national origin, or any other protected category, one of the first steps for taking legal action would be to file a complaint (referred to as a charge) with the EEOC. The EEOC, or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is the federal agency in charge of handling the majority of federal employment discrimination claims, and is often the starting point for any legal action.
Below you will find information on filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC, including a general timeline for EEOC actions, FAQ's, and more. Please select from the links below to get started.
Filing EEOC Complaints
- Filing a Charge of Employment Discrimination -- The associated article provides a basic overview of who can file a discrimination charge, when to file, what a discrimination charge should include, and more.
- EEOC Claims FAQ -- Common questions and answers about the EEOC and the hearing process for a a charge of discrimination is provided at this link, including paying and preparing for the hearing and what happens after your charge is heard.
The EEOC Claims Process
- An EEOC Cause of Action Chronology -- A breakdown of what to expect after filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC, including some key deadlines.
- EEOC Charge Processing Procedures -- Answers to questions about how the EEOC handles discrimination charges and when a complaint can go to court.
There are limits to the EEOC's remedies and protections. There is a maximum monetary penalty that can be claimed as damages that arise from discrimination charges. Punitive damages are available when an employer's conduct is shown to be motivated by evil motive or intent or when it involves 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 in order 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 excess of the statutory damages cap. Some have suggested that the failure of the EEOC to increase its damages caps has led to a reduction in the deterrence value of the law's protections.
There is criticism of the EEOC by both employers and groups representing the interests of the disabled and minority groups. Employer groups tend to feel that the EEOC's requirements increase cost and risk as well as interfering with employers' ability to seek workers using the methods and criteria they think are most important. They complain that some requirements do not accurately reflect the realities of the workplace and the desire of workers themselves. Employee groups complain that penalties are low enough that they no longer function as a disincentive to violating employers and create an imbalance in which these cases, which can be very expensive to prosecute, are difficult for attorney's to properly present while remaining profitable for the employee and attorney.
This ongoing debate may result in sudden changes to the law at virtually any time. Be certain to check on the status of the law prior to beginning a legal action.
Get a Free Initial Case Assessment
Making and prosecuting an EEOC claim can be complicated and your opponent will likely hire an attorney to assist in their defense. You deserve to have someone on your side to ensure that your rights are protected and the strongest-possible claim is made. Contact a local attorney for a free initial case assessment to discuss your concerns and to learn more about how they can help you seek justice.