The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) safeguards the residents of United States against discrimination by an employer, labor union or employment agency on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, disability or religion either at the time of applying for a job or at the work place. EEOC enforces the law only against those employers who have at least 15 employees and in cases of age discrimination, only employers who have at least 20 employees.
Any person who has been subjected to discrimination by an employer, labor union or employment agency to which the EEOC laws apply can file a Charge of Discrimination in the nearest EEOC office. A charge may be filed either in person, through the mail, online or via telephone.
When filing a charge in person, the EEOC prefers that the complainant bring all relevant documents with them such as notice of termination, performance evaluations, etc. When filing a charge by mail, the charge must contain the following: the name, address and telephone number of the complainant, the name of the employer, labor union or employment agency against whom the charge is intended to be filed, the number of employees employed, a brief description of the alleged discrimination along with the dates of the alleged acts. The charge must be notarized.
When filing a charge with the EEOC, the complainant must be aware of very strict timeframes. Generally, charges must be filed with the EEOC within 180 days from the date of the alleged discriminatory act. In New York, which is a Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA) state, the charge must be filed within 300 days from the date of the alleged discriminatory act. There are some limited exceptions to the abovementioned guidelines such as in the case of a hostile work environment. In such cases, as long as the last alleged discriminatory act occurs within the abovementioned timeframes, any alleged act occurring prior to the timeframe may be considered for liability purposes. If the charge cannot be resolved within the EEOC, the complainant may pursue their claims in state or federal court.
Persons filing charges of discrimination alleging violations of the American Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) must follow the abovementioned guidelines. However, persons alleging violations of the Equal Pay Act (EPA) are not required to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, those persons may file such claims in federal court.