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Filing a Discrimination Charge Against Your Employer

School & Work

This article provides information about discrimination and how to file a discrimination charge against your employer. This material is from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission




Filing a Charge of Discrimination

If you believe that you have been discriminated against at work because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information, you can file a Charge of Discrimination. All of the laws enforced by EEOC, except for the Equal Pay Act, require you to file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC before you can file a job discrimination lawsuit against your employer. In addition, an individual, organization, or agency may file a charge on behalf of another person in order to protect the aggrieved person's identity. There are time limits for filing a charge.

Click here for more information about filing a charge with the EEOC.

Note: Federal employees and job applicants have similar protections, but a different complaint process.

Do I have to go through mediation before I bring a charge?

If you file a charge, you may be asked to try to settle the dispute through mediation. Mediation is an informal and confidential way to resolve disputes with the help of a neutral mediator. If the case is not sent to mediation, or if mediation doesn't resolve the problem, the charge will be given to an investigator.

What is a Notice of Right to Sue?

If an investigation finds no violation of the law, you will be given a Notice of Right to Sue. This notice gives you permission to file suit in a court of law. If a violation is found, the EEOC will attempt to reach a voluntary settlement with the employer. If you cannot reach a settlement, your case will be referred to our legal staff (or the Department of Justice in certain cases), who will decide whether or not the agency should file a lawsuit. If the EEOC decides not to file a lawsuit, it will give you a Notice of Right to Sue.

Does the EEOC dismiss charges?

Yes. In some cases, if a charge appears to have little chance of success, or if it is something that the EEOC doesn't have the authority to investigate, the agency may dismiss the charge without doing an investigation or offering mediation.

Do I approach the EEOC or my state to file a charge of employment discrimination?

Many states and local jurisdictions have their own anti-discrimination laws, and agencies responsible for enforcing those laws (Fair Employment Practices Agencies, or FEPAs). If you file a charge with a FEPA, it will automatically be "dual-filed" with EEOC if federal laws apply. You do not need to file with both agencies.

Click here for information on how to submit an employment discrimination complaint in Texas.

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