The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was created in 1964. The EEOC enforces laws that make it illegal to discriminate against an employee or applicant because of their race, color, religion, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation, national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information.
The laws of this commission cover all work situations including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages and benefits. The EEOC has the power to investigate any accusations of discrimination by employers. They both investigate employee complaints and mediate resolutions between employees and employers.
All discrimination cases start with a charge by the employee. The EEOC investigates the charges and will issue its determination. An employee may sue their employer once the EEOC issues a “right to sue” letter. The letter may be issued prior to the end of the investigation. A charge must be filed and a right to sue letter issued before an employee can pursue a discrimination lawsuit in Federal court.
Important deadlines to remember:
An employee must report and file a charge with the EEOC within 180 days of the discrimination. 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.
After receipt of a right to sue letter, the employee has 90 days to file a lawsuit. The 90-day limit is strict and no extensions will be granted.
It is important that all deadlines are met in order to protect an employee’s claims and rights. To file a charge with the EEOC, click here.
Any employee who feels they have been discriminated against or has received their right to sue letter should contact an experienced employment attorney.
Authored by: Karen Munoz, Partner