If you believe that you have been discriminated against at work, you should consult an employment lawyer as soon as possible. If your belief is correct, you may have a legitimate claim related to discriminatory harassment or termination.
The following information is a general overview about the EEOC process, but it's always advisable to reach out to the foremost employment attorneys in Atlanta to have someone evaluate the details of your claim and guide you in the process.
Filing a Complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
If you believe that you have been the target of unlawful discrimination, time is of the essence. You must file a complaint with the EEOC within 180 days of the last incident you believe was discriminatory. You may file your claim by mail, or you may call EEOC's national toll-free number (1-800-669-4000) to have them put you in touch with your local EEOC office.
Once you file a complaint with the EEOC, an EEOC representative will go over the details with you to determine what kind of charge is appropriate. A discrimination charge may be based on one or more protected characteristics, such as race, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, pregnancy or genetic information. You will need to visit to your local EEOC office to sign your charge before the charge can be filed against your employer.
Details of Your Complaint
To successfully file a claim, you will need to provide the following information:
- Type of discrimination (e.g., harassment, demotion, cut in hours/pay, termination)
- Basis (e.g, race, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, pregnancy, genetics)
- Description of injury (emotional, physical, monetary)
- Contact information (name, telephone number, address)
- Signature (or a lawyer's signature if you are represented)
After You Have Filed a Complaint
After filing your complaint, you should receive a copy of your charge. Within 10 days of filing the charge, the EEOC will send a notice to your employer that the charge has been filed. If you have indicated to the EEOC that you would be open to mediation, the EEOC will send an invitation to your employer to participate in mediation. If the employer does not wish to participate in mediation, or if mediation does not resolve the issue, the EEOC will ask your employer to respond to your charges in what is called a “position statement.” You will be given an opportunity to respond to your employer's position statement, and the EEOC will do an investigation.
During the EEOC investigation, the EEOC may request additional details, visit your place of work, and even conduct interviews with other staff members, depending on the severity of the claim. If the EEOC is unable to conclude that a law was violated, you will be given a Dismissal and Notice of Right to Sue that will allow you 90 days to file a lawsuit. Even if the EEOC was unable to find that a law was violated, you should contact an employment discrimination attorney to discuss your case and help you determine whether it would be advantageous for you to move forward and file suit.
If the EEOC finds that your employer's treatment of you did violate a law, they will try to reach a settlement with your employer through “conciliation,” an informal cooperative process for reaching a settlement that is very similar to mediation. If the EEOC cannot resolve your issue through conciliation and does not elect to pursue the matter on your behalf, they will issue you a Letter of Determination explaining their findings and giving you 90 days to file a lawsuit. If you receive a Letter of Determination, it would be in your best interest to consult with an attorney who specializes in employment discrimination before trying to move forward on your own.