The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee. In some states that don’t have labor boards, or in serious enough cases, the EEOC gets involved during an investigation after a worker files a complaint about an Employer with the organization.

To help with your understanding of this process, below is a sample process of an EEOC discrimination charge:

1) The employer discriminates against you in the terms or conditions of your employment, based on an unlawful reason such as your race, religion, or gender.

2) Within 180 days of the discrimination, you file a “charge” (like a complaint) at the EEOC office nearest you.

3) Within ten days of filing the charge, the EEOC sends a notice to your employer, informing them if the charge filed.

4) The EEOC begins an investigation in order to determine whether there is “cause” to support the allegation that your employer did discriminate against you.

Start Your Documentation Now

Even before you file your formal complaint against an Employer, workers should start documenting interactions and conversations, as well as saving any texts, emails, or voicemails workers might have that further defends their position. Read through our brief post on How to Keep Powerful Documentation.

Get Prepared for the Long Haul

Filing a charge with the EEOC against an Employer is an incredibly powerful redistribution of power from Employer to worker. It can also be incredibly wearing on your mental and emotional health. We always let workers know that investigations with the EEOC can take months, sometimes years, and not weeks for an investigation to be resolved. Employers will even delay trails as a legitimate strategy to reduce liability or achieve other goals. With that being said, CWC is here to support you during your entire trial. We can provide emotional support, connect you with mental health professionals, and other great professionals in our network that want to see you get the justice you seek.

Possible Outcomes Of an Investigation

EEOC Does NOT Find Reasonable Cause

Workers will receive a Letter of Dismissal and Notice of Rights. Within fourteen days of the “no cause” finding, workers can request a review of the determination. If the EEOC affirms the “no cause” finding, the organization will issue a “Right to Sue” letter which grants the worker 90 days to file a lawsuit against the Employer.

EEOC Does Find Reasonable Cause

Worker swill receive a Letter of Determination. If the organization decides there is cause to believe your employer discriminated, it will start conciliation. Conciliation, also referred to as Mediation, is a meeting that will take place between the worker, their legal team, and any other trusted individuals (like witnesses to discrimination or even the CWC!) and the Employer’s Human Resources team, legal team, and anyone else the Employer feels defends their side of the case.

If conciliation does not succeed or is decided the EEOC can file a federal lawsuit on behalf of the worker or the worker will receive a “Right to Sue”.

Examples of Non-Monetary Remedies

During a conciliation meeting the worker will be granted an opportunity to explain what it is they consider to be restorative actions that can “undo” the harms of the actions of the Employer. These can range from financial remedies to non-monetary remedies that can still have long lasting impacts.

  • See if you can also receive compensation for any unsused vacation, sick leave, or prorated bonuses before termination.
  • Guarantee company will provide a positive reference or neutral reference while you are looking for employment. If there are any negative records in the personnel file, have company agree to cleanse it. 
  • Guarantee company will not contest employee’s application for unemployment compensation.
  • Have company agree to not “gag” employee by remaining silent about the case. The employer may insist that the terms of the settlement agreement remain confidential. However, employees should not be gagged from the facts that gave rise to the discrimination.
  • Have Employer sign a new Code of Conduct in which Employer promises to make whole any other worker they have aggrieved in the past, to follow state and federal labor laws, and not to retaliate against workers who make complaints about conditions.
  • Ask Employer to dedicate time for CWC to give bi-annual worker’s rights presentations over the period of XX years.