Many employees feel that they have been discriminated against, but are unsure how to address these work place violations. An employee should always begin by making an internal complaint by informing a supervisor, or a human resource employee if that is possible. After a perceived discrimination has occurred, an employee should consider filing a formal charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC will be able to advise you as to the nature and validity of the complaint, while also issuing “right to sue” letters which authorizes the employee to file a lawsuit in Federal Court.
Before filing a formal charge, an intake survey must be completed. This survey determines if the EEOC has grounds to move forward with your claim, or if it is the most appropriate agency. This form can be found here. These forms can also be submitted by phone, or by going to your local EEOC office. A listing of local offices can be found online here.
When filling out the intake survey, you may need a few documents on hand in order to complete it-
· The complaining party’s name, address, and telephone number;
· The name, address, and telephone number of the respondent employer, employment agency, or union that is alleged to have discriminated, and number of employees (or union members), if known;
· A short description of the alleged violation (the event that caused the complaining party to believe that his or her rights were violated); and
· The date(s) of the alleged violation(s).
There are also important deadlines to make to ensure that you may go forward with your claims:
· A charge must be filed with EEOC within 180 days from the date of the alleged violation, in order to protect the charging party’s rights.
· This 180-day filing deadline is extended to 300 days if the charge also is covered by a state or local anti-discrimination law. For ADEA charges, only state laws extend the filing limit to 300 days.
· These time limits do not apply to claims under the Equal Pay Act, because under that Act persons do not have to first file a charge with EEOC in order to have the right to go to court. However, since many EPA claims also raise Title VII sex discrimination issues, it may be advisable to file charges under both laws within the time limits indicated.
This process may be confusing, but should not deter you from pursuing your legal rights in the face of discrimination. It is best to file these claims, as well as contact an employment attorney as soon as an act of discrimination occurs.