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EEOC Facts

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission?
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency in charge of enforcing federal employment discrimination laws. The EEOC is primarily an investigative agency with little enforcement authority. However, to file a lawsuit under most federal discrimination statutes, an employee or applicant must first file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC.

What laws does the EEOC enforce?
The EEOC enforces the federal employment discrimination laws. Those laws include the Equal Pay Act, Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Non- Discrimination Act.

When am I required to contact the EEOC?
You are required to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC anytime you allege discrimination, retaliation, or harassment under Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Genetic Information Non-Disclosure Act.

When do I need to file with the EEOC?
You must file a charge of discrimination within 180 days of the last incident of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment. In some circumstances, you will be given a longer period of time; up to 300 days to file. However, it is best to assume that the 180 day limit applies in North Carolina.

Once I file with the EEOC, how long does the process take?
In most cases, 6 to 18 months.

What happens after I file?
Once you file with the EEOC, a copy of the charge will be sent to the employer. Then, in most cases, the EEOC will contact the employer to determine whether or not the employer is interested in mediating your case. If the employer is not interested in mediating your case, or if the mediation is unsuccessful, then the charge will be forwarded to the investigator.

What is an EEOC mediation?
Mediation occurs when the EEOC assigns one of its own internal mediators to mediate the case. Mediation is simply an informal process whereby a third party mediator attempts to get the parties to resolve their differences without further proceedings. In other words, to get the parties to reach a settlement.

What happens when my case is assigned to an investigator?
Once your case is assigned to an investigator, the investigator will review through your charge of discrimination, and also the employer’s statement of position. The statement of position (often referred to as a “position statement”) is a written, formal response to your charge of discrimination, in which the employer provides its response to the charge you have filed.

Once the EEOC investigator reads the statement of position, what happens next?
In most cases, the EEOC investigator will contact you to discuss the contents of the employer’s statement of position, and to provide you with the opportunity to respond to the statement of position.

Once the investigator has gone over the statement of position with me, what happens next?
After the investigator has gone over the statement of position, the investigator will make a determination as to whether further investigation is needed. If further investigation is needed, the EEOC investigator may do any of a number of different things. For example, the investigator may schedule a time to meet with and interview current or former employees and managers. Additionally, the investigator may also send out what is called a request for information (RFI) in which the investigator asks for additional information or documentation from the employer.

What happens when the investigation is completed?
If the EEOC determines the law has been violated, the EEOC will attempt to engage the parties in conciliation. The process of conciliation involves the EEOC investigator working with the parties to craft a final resolution to the matter i.e. settlement. If that is successful, there is no further processing. If that is not successful, then the EEOC must determine whether they will file a lawsuit against the employer. The EEOC rarely files lawsuits because it lacks the resources to do so.

When is the EEOC investigation completed?
The investigation is completed when the investigator believes that no further information is needed for processing the charge.

What if the EEOC determines that I do not have a case?
If the EEOC determines that there is no reasonable cause to believe you have a valid charge, then the EEOC will issue you what is called a notice of right to sue. That notice of right to sue provides you with 90 days in which to file a lawsuit against the employer for violation of those federal statutes.

I’ve received an EEOC notice of right to sue, what should I do next?
First, it is imperative that you get a copy of your investigative file from the EEOC. The tried and true way to do that is to send a written request to the EEOC. The request should be addressed in writing to the EEOC Regional Attorney responsible for the office that processed your charge. It should include your name, address, phone number, your EEOC charge number, and the name and address of the employer. The body of the request should specifically say that you are requesting an entire copy of your file pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. Furthermore, you must not delay in seeking to file a lawsuit while waiting on your file. If the time limit for filing a lawsuit expires, and you have not filed, then you will never be able to file a lawsuit based on the issues raised in your charge of discrimination.

Can I have an attorney represent me during the EEOC process?
Yes. The EEOC allows attorney representation during its processing. As a former EEOC Trial Attorney, Mr. Angel strongly recommends that you obtain someone who is very experienced in the EEOC process to represent you.

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