If you believe that you have been discriminated against in terms of employment, the first place that you should turn to is the EEOC. Most discrimination laws enforced by the EEOC require that you file a claim, or charge, with the EEOC before filing a lawsuit for discrimination against an employer. Filing an EEOC claim ensures that you will be able to file a discrimination lawsuit in the future, if you decide to do so. Furthermore, filing an EEOC charge is a relatively easy method of enforcing your right to be free from employment discrimination, since you can file an EEOC claim with your local office by completing some simple paperwork.
First, you should contact your local EEOC office for the paperwork and/or questionnaire necessary to filing a charge. You can generally submit these forms in person at the local office, by mail, or online through the EEOC website found at www.eeoc.gov
. Plus, if you need help filling out the paperwork, or if you need some accommodation in order to allow you to do so, your local office should be able to assist you in making sure that you have filled it out correctly and completely. The only exception is if you are a federal employee who has experienced employment discrimination; in that case, you have to go through a completely separate process for filing an EEOC charge.
At a minimum, your paperwork must contain the following:
· Your name, address, and telephone number
· The name, address, and telephone number of the employer that you are complaining about
· A short description of the event that you believe was discriminatory
· The date that the discriminatory event happened
It is also important to remember that in most cases, you must file a charge with the EEOC within 180 days of the discriminatory event with your employer. If state or local discrimination laws also apply to your charge, however, the filing deadline is extended to 300 days, with a few exceptions, such as claims under the Equal Pay Act. Despite these filing timelines, however, it is always best to contact the EEOC as soon as possible after the event that you believe was discriminatory occurred.
Furthermore, if your charge is also covered by state or local law, you can either file with your local or state agency that deals with discrimination issues, which is typically called a “Fair Employment Practices Agency”, or the EEOC. The two agencies will cooperate in order to ensure that you have filed charges under both local/state and federal law; usually, whichever agency you filed the charge with will continue to handle the charge.
Finally, if you work for a U.S. company outside the U.S., you should file your EEOC charge with the district office closest to your employer’s headquarters, or, if you don’t know where to file it, you can simply file the charge with any EEOC office. Despite their presence outside of the U.S., these employers are generally subject to discrimination laws, with a few exceptions.
As you can see, filing an EEOC charge is a relatively simple, and often necessary step to combating discrimination that you have may have experienced in the workplace. The EEOC exists solely to make sure that your employer does not discriminate against you; therefore, you should use the services that the EEOC has to offer if you have been discriminated against by your employer.