The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency tasked with interpreting and enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). These laws forbid employers from discriminating against employees and job applicants on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy, and, in New York, sexual orientation and gender identity), age (for individuals who are 40 years of age or older), disability or perceived disability, and genetic information. These civil rights laws also prohibit employers from retaliating against an employee or job applicant for complaining about discrimination, filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, or participating in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
The role of the EEOC is to investigate allegations of discrimination made by employees regarding their employer or their working conditions, so long as their employer is covered by Title VII, the ADEA, ADA, or GINA or otherwise within the EEOC’s purview. The process of an EEOC investigation starts when a claimant file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC—a signed statement asserting that an employer, union or labor organization engaged in employment discrimination under a statute the EEOC is responsible for enforcing. After the charge of discrimination is filed with the EEOC, the EEOC will then investigate the alleged discrimination and assess the allegations made in the charge, after which the EEOC may issue a finding or attempt to settle the charge by engaging the parties in a mediation to resolve the matter.
If the mediation fails or the investigation is complete, the EEOC then has the right to file a lawsuit on the claimant’s behalf—which occurs in a small percentage of cases—or, more commonly, the EEOC may issue the claimant a Notice-of-Right-to-Sue letter, which gives the claimant the right to pursue their claims in federal court and is required to file a lawsuit against an employer under Title VII, the ADEA, the ADA, or GINA. In addition, the EEOC may send a “Letter of Determination” to both parties stating that there is reason to believe that discrimination occurred. Upon receiving a Right-to-Sue letter, a claimant then has 90 days to file a lawsuit in federal court concerning the discrimination and/or retaliation described in the EEOC charge.
Navigating the process of filing an EEOC charge and an employment discrimination lawsuit can be complicated, but the employment discrimination attorneys at The Harman Firm, LLP, have represented thousands of workers in such cases. Retaining an experienced attorney to handle your employment discrimination lawsuit is essential to achieve fair redress, which might include reinstatement, back pay, front pay, emotional distress damages, an employer’s implementation of anti-discrimination policies, and/or attorneys’ fees. The Harman Firm, LLP, has a team of employment attorneys who are experienced in handling EEOC cases. We guide our clients through the process of filing a charge (in accordance with EEOC procedures and rules), while offering experience, support, and dedication to employees who have experienced discrimination or retaliation.