Paladin Law

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What is the EEOC?

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee. Employers are prohibited from discrimination based on: 

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation)
  • National origin, age (40 or older)
  • Disability or genetic information

Discrimination can be in the form of: 

  • Unfair treatment
  • Harassment
  • Denial of reasonable accommodations needed because of religious beliefs, disability, pregnancy childbirth, or medical conditions.
  • Retaliation because you complained of job discrimination or assisted with a discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Covered Employers

Generally, employers with at least 15 employees (20 for age discrimination) are covered by EEOC laws. Federal agencies, such as the military, homeland security, FBI, etc., are also subject to EEOC laws and investigations. 

The EEOC will investigate charges of discrimination against employers who are covered under the law. 

Procedures and Timelines

The procedures and timeline for alleging discrimination against an employer is determined based on whether the employer is a private employer or a federal employer. 

Private Employers

You must generally file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC before you file a lawsuit in court against the employer. Strict time limits must be filed when alleging discrimination. Contact an attorney immediately if you believe you have been the victim of discrimination, or you could miss these deadlines and will not have a chance to have your issues addressed by the EEOC or a court.

A Charge of Discrimination can be completed through the EEOC Public Portal.

Anti-discrimination laws allow a limited amount of time to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. Generally, an employee must file the charge within 180 calendar days of the day the discrimination took place. The time limit is usually not extended if you attempt to resolve a dispute through another forum, such as through an internal grievance procedure, through the union grievance, or through mediation prior outside the EEOC. Holidays and weekends are included in the time limit calculation. 

Contact an attorney immediately if you experienced discrimination to avoid missing the timeline. These timelines are strictly used to determine timeliness and you can only file a discrimination charge after the expiration of the timeline in rare circumstances.  

Federal Employers

If you are a federal employee or job applicant who suffered discrimination, you have a right to file a complaint with the EEOC. Each agency is required to post information about how to contact the agency’s EEO Office. Contacting the EEO Counselor is the first step of this process and must be done within 45 days from the day the discrimination occurred. Note that this is a much shorter timeline than for private employers and is a strict requirement for you to seek redress in the EEOC process. 

Once filed, the EEO Counselor will often give you a choice to participate in EEO Counseling or in an alternative dispute resolution program, such as mediation. 

If the dispute cannot be settled or resolved, you will be issued notice of your right to file a formal discrimination complaint. This formal complaint must be filed with the agency’s EEO Office and Counselor within 15 days of receiving the notice. 

After receiving the formal complaint, the agency will review the complaint and determine if you met all filing deadlines. They may conduct an investigation. They have 180 days to complete the investigation. They will issue a notice giving you the choice between a hearing before an EEOC Administrative Judge or to ask the agency to issue a decision on discrimination. 

There are some appeal options if you do not like the outcome from this decision. Once all administrative options have been exhausted, you may file a lawsuit in federal district court to seek redress from the alleged discrimination by the employer. 

Paladin Law can represent you at every stage of the EEO process, including initial EEO Counseling, ADR, mediation, trial, and appeal if necessary. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.


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