The EEOC Claims Handling Process: What Happens Next?
By enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) protects individuals from workplace discrimination based on one’s race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age and disability. Filing an EEOC Complaint against your employer is the first step in obtaining compensation for employment discrimination. To ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled, it is important that you understand the complexities of the EEOC claims handling process.
Who can file an EEOC Complaint?
Non-federal employees and job applicants who have suffered discrimination or harassment in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws may file a complaint with the EEOC. Most federal anti-discrimination laws require that you file a complaint with the EEOC prior to filing a discrimination lawsuit against your employer. In general, you must file an EEOC Complaint within 300 days from the date of the discriminatory act. Your EEOC complaint or “charge” against your employer explains the details of the alleged workplace discrimination.
Typical EEOC charges include details such as:
- When the discrimination started and ended
- The location of the discrimination
- The identity of individuals who engaged in the discriminatory acts
- The basis of the discrimination (e.g. age, race, national origin, pregnancy status, sex, disability, religion)
- The nature of the discriminatory act (harassment, termination of employment, failure to promote, demotion, etc.)
- The identity of witnesses
What happens after an EEOC Complaint is Filed?
After the filing of a discrimination complaint, the EEOC provides a copy of the charge to your employer while making an initial determination whether your charge should be subject to the mediation process. The EEOC will suggest mediation in certain cases where the facts indicate that settlement might be possible between the parties. The mediation is both free and confidential and your attorney will be present to advocate on your behalf during the proceedings.
The goal of mediation is for both parties to reach a voluntary settlement of the matter. In some cases, mediation is not a feasible option for the resolution of an EEOC Complaint. When mediation does not take place, or if mediation occurs but does not resolve the matter, an EEOC investigator will examine the charges and seek a response from your employer.
During the course of an EEOC investigation, the assigned EEOC investigator often seeks additional information from the involved parties. It is common for the investigation to include interviews (both in person and telephone), extensive document review and worksite visits. Parties who refuse to cooperate with EEOC investigations may be subject to administrative subpoenas to allow the EEOC to obtain access to certain documents, testimony or facilities.
When is a Decision Rendered on an EEOC Complaint?
The EEOC investigation process can take varying amounts of time depending on the amount of material that needs to be gathered and reviewed by the EEOC investigator. When the investigation is complete, the EEOC will issue either a “no cause” or “probable cause” decision.
A “no cause” finding indicates that the investigator found no reason to believe that unlawful discrimination has taken place. If the EEOC issues a “probable cause” finding, the investigator has found a good reason to believe that unlawful discrimination has occurred. The EEOC will schedule a conciliation between the parties in an attempt to resolve the case without filing a lawsuit. If the conciliation does not resolve the matter, you will receive a Right to Sue letter which requires that you file your discrimination lawsuit against your employer within 90 days.
Philadelphia Employment Law Attorneys at Sidney L. Gold & Associates Assist in Navigating the EEOC Claims Handling Process
The experienced Philadelphia employment law attorneys at Sidney L. Gold & Associates have been handling cases before the EEOC for over 30 years. Our dedicated EEOC attorneys assist individuals who have suffered workplace discrimination at all stages of the EEOC claims handling process including mediations, fact finding conferences, investigations and conciliations.
If your discrimination claim is not successfully settled during through the EEOC claims handling process, our experienced Pennsylvania and New Jersey employment law attorneys will litigate your employment discrimination lawsuit in either the state or federal court system.
The law offices of Sidney L. Gold & Associates are conveniently located in Center City, Philadelphia to serve individuals throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call us today at 215-569-1999 to schedule a free confidential consultation or contact us online.