Filing A Charge of Discrimination With The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
Filing a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- Laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provide basic rights for job applicants and employees who work in the United States.
- The laws apply to applicants, employees and former employees, regardless of their citizenship or work status.
- Full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees are protected if they work for a covered employer.
- Most unions and employment agencies are covered.
- All federal government agencies and most other employers with at least 15 employees are covered by laws enforced by the EEOC.
A federal employment discrimination case cannot be filed in court without first going to the EEOC, and having the EEOC dismiss your claim. This process is called “exhaustion” of your administrative remedy. Exhaustion is not required to proceed with your state discrimination claim.
EEOC Basic Rights for Job Applicants and Employees
- This means that your employer cannot make job decisions because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, disability, age (age 40 or older) or genetic information.
- This right applies to all types of job decisions, including hiring, firing, promotions, training, wages and benefits.
- You have a right to work in an environment free of harassment based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, age (age 40 or older) or genetic information.
- You have a right to complain about treatment that you believe is illegal job discrimination.
- Your employer cannot punish you, treat you differently or harass you if you report job discrimination or help someone else report job discrimination, even if it turns out the conduct was not illegal.
- You have a right to request reasonable changes to your workplace because of your religious beliefs or medical condition.
- Although your employer does not have to grant every request, it should carefully consider each request and whether it would be possible.
- The laws enforced by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) strictly limit what an employer can ask you about your health.
- In addition, you have a right to keep any genetic information and medical information you share with your employer private. In general, your employer should not discuss your genetic information or medical information with others.
- There are very limited exceptions to the confidentiality requirements in the laws enforced by EEOC.
Before You File
Before you file a claim with the EEOC
Go online- Use the EEOC Public Portal to submit an online inquiry and schedule an intake interview with an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) staff member.
Attend your interview. In the interview you will have the opportunity to discuss your concerns about employment discrimination with an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) staff member. The EEOC staff member can help you determine whether filing a charge of discrimination is the appropriate path for you.
- It is always helpful if you bring with you to the meeting any information or papers that will help us understand your case. For example, if you were fired because of your performance, you might bring with you the letter or notice telling you that you were fired and your performance evaluations. You might also bring with you the names of people who know about what happened and information about how to contact them.
- You can bring anyone you want to your meeting, especially if you need language assistance and know someone who can help. You can also bring your lawyer, although you don't have to hire a lawyer to file a charge. If you need special assistance during the meeting, like a sign language or foreign language interpreter, let us know ahead of time so we can arrange for someone to be there for you.
Make a final decision to whether to file a charge. If you choose to file a charge you may file online through the EEOC Public Portal, in person at an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office, or by mail.
Do not delay in contacting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to file a claim. In general, you need to file a charge within 180 calendar days from the day the discrimination took place.
- The 180 calendar day filing deadline is extended to 300 calendar days if a state or local agency 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.
- Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). Most labor unions and employment agencies are also covered. The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.
You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, if possible. Yet if you are unable to find an attorney who will assist you, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file your claim with the the EEOC.
How to File
Ways you can file
Access your EEOC Public Portal online.
- EEOC has launched an online service that enables individuals who have filed a discrimination charge to check the status of their charge online.
- This service provides a portal to upload and receive documents and communicate with the EEOC, allowing for a faster transmitting period.
- Those who have filed a charge can access information about their charge at their convenience, and allow entities that have been charged to receive the same information on the status of the charge. All of the EEOC offices now use the Digital Charge System.
You may file a charge of employment discrimination at the EEOC office closest to where you live, or at any one of the EEOC's 53 field offices. Your charge, however, may be investigated at the EEOC office closest to where the discrimination occurred. Offices also have walk-in appointments.
EEOC — New Orleans District Office
701 Loyola Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70113-9936
Phone: (504) 589-2329
TTY: (504) 589-2958
You can also file a charge by sending a letter to the EEOC. Don't forget to sign your letter. If you don't sign it, the EEOC cannot investigate it. Your letter will be reviewed and if more information is needed, the EEOC will contact you to gather that information.
Make sure you include this information in your letter:
- Your name, address, email, and telephone number
- The name, address, email, and telephone number of the employer (or employment agency or union) 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 (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, genetic information, or retaliation
- Your signature
EEOC — New Orleans District Office
701 Loyola Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70113-9936
Phone: (504) 589-2329
TTY: (504) 589-2958
After you File
After you file a charge with the EEOC
After you file a charge you can access your charge through the EEOC Public Portal once you have registered. The EEOC will give you a copy of your charge with your change number. Use the EEOC Public Portal to:
- Update your contact information - It's important that your contact information is current and accurate.
- Upload a letter of representation from your attorney if you have one Upload documents supporting your charge
- Request the Respondent's Position Statement if it submits one, and upload your response
- Check the status of your charge
When your charge is filed, the EEOC will give you a copy of your charge with your charge number. Within 10 days, the EEOC will also send a notice and a copy of the charge to the employer. At that point, the EEOC may decide to do one of the following:
- Ask both you and the employer to take part in a mediation program
- Ask the employer to provide a written answer to your charge and answer questions related to your claim, then your charge will be given to an investigator
- Dismiss the claim if your charge was not filed in time or if the EEOC does not have jurisdiction
If you and the employer agree to mediation, a mediator will try to help you both reach a voluntary settlement. Mediation allows you and the employer to talk about your concerns.
- Mediators don't decide who is right or wrong, but they are very good at suggesting ways to solve problems and disagreements.
- The EEOC are often able to settle a charge faster through mediation (usually in less than 3 months).
- The EEOC usually asks the employer to give them a written answer to your charge (called "Respondent's Position Statement"). You will receive an email once we receive the position statement and it is available for you to review. Log in to the Public Portal to obtain a copy of the position statement.
- If the EEOC decides to investigate your charge: How your charge is investigated depends on its facts and the kinds of information the EEOC needs to gather. In some instances, the EEOC will visit the employer to hold interviews and gather documents. In other instances, the EEOC interviews witnesses and may ask for more documents.
- You can continue to check status of your charge by using EEOC's Online Charge Status System.
- How long the investigation takes depends on many factors, including the amount of information that needs to be gathered and analyzed.
- On average, the EEOC takes approximately 10 months to investigate a charge.
- Your employer may not fire, demote, harass, or otherwise "retaliate" against you for filing a charge.
- All of the laws the EEOC enforces make it illegal for an employer to retaliate against someone who files a charge or someone who takes part in an EEOC investigation or lawsuit.
- If you feel you have been retaliated against, you should promptly contact the investigator looking into your charge.
- The investigator will talk with you about the situation and add a claim of retaliation to your charge if appropriate.
- If a claim of retaliation is added to your charge, we will tell the employer and then investigate the retaliation claim along with the rest of your charge.
- Keep in mind that the strict deadlines for filing a charge also apply when you want to add to a charge.
- The fact that you filed an earlier charge may not extend the deadline. For this reason, you should contact us as soon as possible.
- If new events take place after you file your charge that you believe are discriminatory, you can add these new events to your charge and investigate them. This is called "amending" a charge.
- In some cases, the EEOC may decide it is better for you to file a new charge of discrimination.
- If new events are added to your charge or a new charge is filed, the EEOC will send the new or amended charge to the employer and investigate the new events along with the rest.
- Keep in mind that the strict deadlines for filing a charge also apply when you want to amend a charge.
- The fact that you filed an earlier charge may not extend the deadline. For this reason, you should contact your investigator immediately if you think other discriminatory events have taken place.
If your case is successfully resolved by the EEOC, you will be notified of the result. Check the status of your charge on the EEOC Online Portal.
If the EEOC is not able to determine if the law may have been violated, we will send you a Notice of Right to Sue.
- This notice gives you the right to file a lawsuit in court.
- If the EEOC determines the law may have been violated, the EEOC will try to reach a voluntary settlement with the employer.
- If the EEOC cannot reach a settlement, your case will be referred to EEOC legal staff (or the Department of Justice in certain cases), who will decide whether the agency should file a lawsuit.
- If the EEOC decides not to file a lawsuit, they will give you a Notice of Right to Sue.
When you receive a document known as "Dismissal and Notice of Rights" it means the claim is dimissed. This may be if the charge was not filed in time or if the EEOC does not have jurisdiction.
- If the EEOC dismisses your claim you can continue to pursue your claim in federal court. To preserve your claim under federal law, you must file with the LCHR (or cross-file with the EEOC) within 300 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against.
- You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, if possible. Yet, if you are unable to find an attorney who will assist you, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file your claim with the state and federal administrative agencies.