Any individual who believes that his or her employment rights have been violated may file a charge of discrimination with EEOC.
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.
Note: Federal employees or applicants for Federal employment should see EEOC regulations applicable to federal employee complaints.
How is a Charge of Discrimination Filed?
When filing a charge with EEOC, you may be asked to fill out an intake questionnaire that may be submitted by mail or in person at the nearest EEOC office. An intake questionnaire or other correspondence can constitute a charge under the statutes we enforce if it contains all the information required by EEOC regulations governing the contents of a charge and constitutes a clear request for the agency to act. Individuals who need an accommodation in order to file a charge (e.g., sign language interpreter, print materials in an accessible format) should inform the EEOC field office so appropriate arrangements can be made.
Federal employees or applicants for employment should see Federal Sector Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint Processing Regulations since the procedures for federal employees are different.
What Information Must be Provided in the Charge of Discrimination?
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).
What are the Time Limits for Filing a Charge of Discrimination?
All laws enforced by EEOC, except the Equal Pay Act, require filing a charge with EEOC before a private lawsuit may be filed in court. There are strict time limits within which charges must be filed:
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.
To protect legal rights, it is always best to contact EEOC promptly when discrimination is suspected.
What if there is a State or Local Law Prohibiting Discrimination?
Many states and localities have anti-discrimination laws and agencies responsible for enforcing those laws. EEOC refers to these agencies as "Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs)." Through the use of "work sharing agreements," EEOC and the FEPAs avoid duplication of effort while at the same time ensuring that a charging party's rights are protected under both federal and state law.
If a charge is filed with a FEPA and is also covered by federal law, the FEPA "dual files" the charge with EEOC to protect federal rights. The charge usually will be retained by the FEPA for handling.
If a charge is filed with EEOC and also is covered by state or local law, EEOC "dual files" the charge with the state or local FEPA, but ordinarily retains the charge for handling.
How is a Charge filed for Discrimination Outside the United States?
U.S.-based companies that employ U.S. citizens outside the United States or its territories are covered under EEO laws, with certain exceptions. An individual alleging an EEO violation outside the U.S. should file a charge with the district office closest to his or her employer's headquarters. However, if you are unsure where to file, you may file a charge with any EEOC office.