To handle a complaint of discrimination effectively, an employer should have a basic understanding of the process and procedures used by the EEOC to enforce the federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination. By knowing in advance what to expect, an employer can best prepare its defense.
EEOC ProcessAny individual who believes that his or her employment rights have been violated may file a charge of discrimination with EEOC. Charges may be filed by mail or in person at their nearest EEOC office. Once an employee or applicant files a charge, the EEOC then serves notice on the employer, usually by mail, that a charge has been filed against them. This notice normally includes a copy of the actual charge filed by the employee or applicant.
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 (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
Employers must understand that the persons who evaluate and decide the outcome of employment discrimination cases (the EEOC investigator, federal or state judge, and/or jury) have keen senses of fairness and expect that employees will be treated in a fair manner. As a result, employers are exposed to substantial liability for any acts, including perceived acts, of discrimination in the workplace. Employers should take any charge of discrimination seriously and the employer must keep in mind that, at a minimum, it needs to have...