20 Apr The EEOC process
By: Jeremy Schatz, Managing Attorney, Virtus Law Group, Birmingham Alabama.
If you want to pursue a claim of discrimination against your employer under Title VII (race, color, religion, national origin, and sex), the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act,(ADEA), or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you have to file a charge of discrimination within a certain time period with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within a certain time frame. (Generally, 180 days from the discriminatory conduct in Alabama).
Once the charge is filed the EEOC sends a copy to the employer within 10 days of filing. Following notice to the employer, if eligible, the EEOC may ask both parties to mediate the claim before the EEOC investigation. The EEOC mediation program is free, but both parties must agree to mediate the claim.
If the claim is ineligible for mediation, both parties don’t agree to mediate, or the mediation is unsuccessful, the claim goes to an investigation.
Once in the investigation stage, the EEOC will request what is called a position statement from the employer. This is simply a response to the charge filed. The employee also has an opportunity to respond to the employer’s position statement. How long the investigation lasts and what type of investigation the EEOC conducts are determined by several factors, such as the type of discrimination.
Once the EEOC completes the investigation, both parties will be notified of the findings of if the law was violated. If it can’t be determined that the law was violated, the employee is issued what’s called a Right to Sue which allows the employee to file their claim in Federal Court (A Right to Sue may also be requested by the employee 180 days after filing of the charge even if the investigation is not complete). Should the investigation show a violation, the EEOC will reach out to both parties and attempt to come to a voluntary settlement. If one can’t be reached, the charge is forwarded to the legal department (Department of Justice) who will decide whether they should file a lawsuit or give a private Right to Sue.