Victims of employment discrimination can pursue legal claims against their employers by filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces the anti-discrimination laws that protect employees.
After an employee submits a letter of complaint to the EEOC, the EEOC will review the merits of the case and move forward based on that review. Here are some outcomes that employees could encounter depending on the circumstances of their cases:
When the EEOC does not believe discrimination has occurred
If the EEOC performs a review of the employee’s complaint and determines that no discrimination occurred, the EEOC explain its decision to the employee who complained. The EEOC sends a notice with appropriate details to the employee. This notice will state that the EEOC is closing the matter and that the employee will have 90 days to file a formal lawsuit on his or her own.
When the EEOC believes that discrimination has occurred
If the EEOC believes that discrimination has occurred, the EEOC will inform both the employee and the employer with a “letter of discrimination” that details the EEOC’s findings. After that, the EEOC will try to reach a conciliatory settlement to which the employee and employer will agree.
When the EEOC reaches a conciliatory settlement — often through a mediation process in which the complaining employee has the right to private legal representation — the case will be resolved as long as both sides of the settlement honor its terms.
When the EEOC cannot reach a successful settlement of the matter, it will decide whether it will move forward with a federal lawsuit. If the EEOC chooses not to file suit, it will notify the parties and the employee will have 90 days to file a private lawsuit on his or her own, usually with the aid of a private attorney.
Do you have a potential EEOC discrimination complaint?
An employee who has experienced workplace discrimination doesn’t have to try and navigate the process of filing an EEOC complaint on his or her own. With the assistance of a skilled EEOC employment law attorney, employees can organize their discrimination complaints in a way that most appropriately supports their pursuit of justice and restitution.