- Blog post
The basic facts behind EEOC cases
Not all EEOC cases are investigated by the Employment Equality Opportunity Commission.
Filing EEOC cases
A disgruntled applicant, a current employee or former employee can file EEOC cases. So, you could have a charge brought by somebody who is still a worker at your company.
Employees must file EEOC cases within 180 days of the alleged unlawful employment practices for a non-deferral state or county, and within 300 days for deferral jurisdiction. And a deferral jurisdiction is simply one where a state agency exists as well.
In your state – if there’s a state agency like a human rights department, a human rights division, then, a copy of the charge is going to be sent to the state agency and the employee has longer to file.
If EEOC cases have been filed against your company, the EEOC is typically going to notify you by mail within ten days of its receipt of the charge. The notification normally includes a copy of the charge, which will briefly identify the complainant, the charging party namely the person who has raised the issue.
It will identify the basis for the EEOC cases, is it race, color, religion, national origin, gender, and the issues. For example, is it with respect to hiring, promotion, discharge, general workplace conduct, et cetera? It will also hopefully identify at least roughly the date that the alleged discriminatory conduct took place.
And the person who is making that charge must do so under oath or affirmation. So, they do have to sign it, saying they swear they’re telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Along with the charge, there is also usually a pretty clear explanation of the EEOC process as well as explanations of the company’s obligations to retain records pertinent to the charge and of the non-retaliation provisions of the various laws that the EEOC administers.
You may also receive an invitation to mediate the EEOC cases.
The EEOC enforces the Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which protects against discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, and religion. It also enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prevents discrimination based on physical and mental disability, the age discrimination in Employment Act and the Equal Pay Act.
Title 7 applies to companies that have 15 or more employees. The ADEA, which is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which says you can’t discriminate based on age 40 or higher, applies to companies with 20 or more employees. The Equal Pay Act applies to employers with one or more employee.
State EEO laws
If you’ve got someone who’s filing EEOC cases based on something like sexual orientation or marital status for example, those types of claims will not be handled by the EEOC because they are not within the laws that the EEOC addresses.
State agencies have their own equivalents to the EEOC, and many counties and local jurisdictions have agencies as well. Those state agencies enforce the state anti-discrimination laws.
If someone claims for example, that they are being discriminated against based on their sexual orientation that would be a state claim if the state EEO law protected sexual orientation as a protected category from discrimination. The state agency would handle that claim.
Edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar: “EEOC Charges: How to Prepare an Airtight Response and Avoid Costly Payouts” by Alyssa T. Senzel, Esq. on 2-7-2008