The EEOC charge: Who files them, who investigates them , and what laws do they cover?
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The EEOC charge: Who files them, who investigates them , and what laws do they cover?

The key details you need to know about an EEOC charge

Who can file an EEOC charge?
A disgruntled applicant, employee or former employee could file an EEOC charge. So it doesn’t have to just be an active employee. It can be any of those people.

How long do they have to file an EEOC charge?
It has to be filed with the EEOC within 180 days of the alleged unlawful employment practice if you’re in a non-deferral state and county and within 300 days, if you’re in a deferral jurisdiction.

What is a deferral jurisdiction?
A deferral jurisdiction is one where your state has a state agency as well. If you’re in a location where there’s a state Human Rights Office, then a copy of the charge is going to be sent to that state agency as well and the employee or the applicant has 300 days to file.

What happens once an EEOC charge is filed against my company?
The EEOC is typically going to notify you by mail usually within ten days of its receipt of a charge. That notification normally includes a copy of the charge briefly identifying who the complainant is, that person is also referred to in EEOC jargon as the charging party.

It will also state the basis of the complaint, for example, race, religion, sex, age, et cetera. It will also state the issue; is this hiring, promotion, or discharge issue? It will also state the date of the alleged discrimination so you have a sense of when this occurred. The person making the charge must do so under oath or affirmation.

What is included with the EEOC charge?
You’re going to get a pretty clear explanation of the EEOC charge process as well as explanations of your company’s obligations to retain records pertaining to the charge and of the non-retaliation provisions of the EEOC law. Included in that packet is will be an invitation to mediate the charge in most cases.

What federal regulations does the EEOC enforce?
The EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin and religion. It also enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination and Employment Act and the Equal Pay Act.

What discrimination claims doesn’t the EEOC enforce?
Someone who’s claiming discrimination based on say sexual orientation or marital status, that’s not going to be handled by the EEOC because that’s not covered by Title VII or one of those other Federal laws. Many state agencies have their own equivalents to the EEOC. There are some local agencies as well that have similar equivalents. Those state or local agencies are going to enforce the state anti-discrimination laws.

So, if someone has a claim that they’re being discriminated against based on their sexual orientation for example, that would be a state claim if of course, the state law covered sexual orientation as a protected category.

What size companies are liable for an EEOC charge?
Title VII and the ADA apply to employers that have 15 or more employees. The ADEA, the Age Discrimination and Employment Act, covers employees age or applicants age 40 or higher, applies to employers with 20 or more employees and the Equal Pay Act applies to employers with one or more employees.

Edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar: “In EEOC’s Crosshairs? How to Prepare an Airtight Response and Avoid Costly Payouts” by Alyssa T. Senzel on 8-5-08

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