If you believe you are discriminated at work or are subject to illegal harassment, you will want to know how to file an employment discrimination charge.
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles discrimination charges and you will first have to file your complaint with them before bringing a private action.
- Where to File: You may file your charge at any of the EEOC's 53 field offices, either in person or through the mail. The EEOC does not accept charges online or over the telephone.
- When Should You File the Charge: In general, you have 180 days from the date of the incident to file the charge. But if a state or local agency enforces the same discrimination laws, you may have 300 days to file the charge.
- What You Should Prepare: You will want to describe the event, such as when it happened, the circumstances, and why you believe you were subject to discrimination. You will also want to gather all supporting information and papers. For example, if you were fired, you might gather the letter or notice telling you that you were fired and your performance evaluations. You might also bring with you the names of people who know about what happened, and information about how to contact them.
- What Happens Next: The EEOC will review your complaint and possibly investigate it. If the agency believes there may have been a violation, the agency may seek to mediate the case on your behalf, or even sue the employer on your behalf. However, if the agency does not agree with you, it will issue you a Notice of Right to Sue. This means that the EEOC will not be representing you, and you will have to hire a private attorney to fight your case.