The EEOC’s new, online system for filing employment discrimination charges: what you need to know

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) launched a new, online system for filing and tracking certain charges of workplace discrimination on November 1, 2017.

“This secure online system makes the EEOC and an individual’s charge information available wherever and whenever it is most convenient for that individual,” said EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. “It’s a giant leap forward for the EEOC in providing online services.”

What is an EEOC discrimination charge and why is it important for me to file one?

If you are considering filing a sex harassmentglass ceiling/promotion discrimination case, or other employment discrimination claim, you need to know about the EEOC discrimination charge filing process.  Generally, someone who believes they have been discriminated against at work must first file an EEOC discrimination charge before they can file an employment discrimination lawsuit under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in federal court (different procedures may apply for a state law claim or claims under different federal laws).

What does the new discrimination charge filing system do?

The EEOC Public Portal “allows individuals to submit online initial inquiries and requests for intake interviews with the agency.”  For employees looking to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, these inquiries and requests for interviews are how the charge-filing process usually begin.

The online system now allows individuals to digitally sign and file a charge of discrimination that has been prepared by the EEOC for them.  After the charge is filed, the person can use the EEOC Public Portal to:

  • provide and update contact information,
  • agree to mediate the charge,
  • upload documents to his or her charge file,
  • receive documents and messages related to the charge from the agency; and
  • check on the status of his or her charge.

According to the EEOC, in fiscal year 2017, the agency “responded to over 550,000 calls to the toll-free number and more than 140,600 inquiries in field offices, reflecting the significant public demand for EEOC’s services.”  The new online system will help respond to this huge volume of contacts and “is more efficient for the public and the agency as it reduces the time and expense of paper submissions.”

The online features may be used for new charges going forward as well as charges that are currently in investigation or mediation, so long as they were filed after January 1, 2016.

The public portal features helpful videos that walk the user through the online filing process.  And the online portal guides the user with a step-by-step series of questions.

Important note about what the new filing system does not do

Two big exceptions apply to who may use the new online system.  According to the EEOC, “the new system does not permit individuals to file charges of discrimination online that:

  • have not been prepared by the EEOC; or
  • to file complaints of discrimination against federal agencies.”

Individuals who do not have online access can call 1-800-669-4000 to get basic information about how to submit an inquiry to their local EEOC office.

calendar and hour glassWhat deadlines apply in filing an EEOC discrimination charge?

If you decide to file an EEOC discrimination charge, the EEOC’s website contains valuable information on how to do so.  Depending on what state you live in, your charge of discrimination must be filed within 180 or 300 days of the discriminatory act.

Note 1: Federal employees and job applicants have a different complaint process, and generally must contact an agency EEO Counselor within 45 days.

Note 2:  for age discrimination claims, the 180 day deadline can only be extended in certain circumstances and it is important to see what deadline applies in your particular case.

What happens after I file my EEOC discrimination charge?

After you file a charge of discrimination, the EEOC will investigate your claim and may offer to try and settle the case with you and your employer.  The EEOC will give a copy of your discrimination charge to your employer.  If the EEOC finds cause to believe your employer discriminated against you, then the EEOC may either try to settle the case with the employer or the EEOC may decide to file a lawsuit on your behalf.  In the event the EEOC can’t determine whether you were discriminated against, it will issue you a Notice of Right to Sue, after which you may file your own lawsuit in court.

Hiring an experienced employment discrimination lawyer

Hiring a proven and effective advocate is critical to obtaining the maximum recovery in an employment discrimination case.  Eric Bachman, Chair of the Firm’s Discrimination Practice, has substantial experience litigating precedent-setting individual and class action discrimination cases.   His wins include a $100 million settlement in a disparate impact Title VII class action and a $16 million class action settlement against a major grocery chain.  Having served as Special Litigation Counsel in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and as lead or co-counsel in numerous jury trials, Bachman is trial-tested and ready to fight for you to obtain the relief that you deserve.

Bachman writes frequently on topics related to promotion discrimination, harassment, and other employment discrimination issues at the Glass Ceiling Discrimination Blog.

U.S. News and Best Lawyers® have named Zuckerman Law a Tier 1 firm in Litigation – Labor and Employment in the Washington DC metropolitan area.  Contact us today to find out how we can help you.  To schedule a preliminary consultation, click here or call us at (202) 769-1681 or (202) 262-8959.

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