When dealing with workplace discrimination, you have a lot on your plate. There are so many procedural steps, and the websites that are supposed help make the process easier can be confusing. It is difficult to go through this process alone, especially if you have not filed anything with an administrative agency before.
But you don’t have to go through this process alone. It is already difficult enough to deal with a discriminatory workplace. Let us take some of the burden off your shoulders. At J.P. Ward & Associates, we have developed a hands-on approach to help make this process as easy as possible for you. Read on to learn more about the types of complaints covered by the EEOC.
When Should I File With the EEOC?
When you are filing a claim based on employment discrimination, before you can serve a complaint on your employer, you first have to file a complaint with the EEOC. The abbreviation “EEOC” stands for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
A federal organization, the EEOC is responsible for enforcing the federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against an employee or potential employee on the basis of:
- Sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation);
- National origin;
- Age (40+ years);
- Disability; or
- Genetic Information.
The EEOC also deals with claims of discrimination where an employee was discriminated against because the employee complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination lawsuit.
To file, you must first ensure that your employer employees at least 15 employees. This number increases to 20 employees in age discrimination cases.
How Do I File A Claim?
The laws enforced by the EEOC require you to file a charge with the EEOC before you can file a lawsuit against your employer. The EEOC has the authority to investigate charges of discrimination and must first look into your claim to ensure that you have a bona fide claim.
When the EEOC determines that you have a claim, they issue what is known as a “Notice of Right to Sue” letter. It is then that you are able to file a lawsuit against your employer.
It is important to note that you only have 180 calendar-days from the date of the incident to file with the EEOC.
But how do you actually file a claim?
The EEOC provides a filer with several options for filing. One of these is by filing online.
The EEOC will then reach out to you for an interview regarding the claim mentioned in the inquiry. You are permitted to have an attorney present during this interview.
Filing in Person
The EEOC also allows filers to file in person with the EEOC office. The EEOC has 53 field offices, each of which have appointments. These appointments can be scheduled online through the EEOC Public Portal.
For clients located in Western Pennsylvania, the closest office is the Pittsburgh Area Office, located at:
William S. Moorhead Federal Building
1000 Liberty Avenue, Suite 1112
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
For clients located in Eastern Pennsylvania, the closest office is the Philadelphia District Office, located at:
801 Market Street, Suite 1000
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Please Note: During the on-going COVID-19 global pandemic, the EEOC Field Offices have temporarily stopped conducting in-person intake interviews. All in-person interviews will instead be a telephone interview. The offices are currently not accepting walk-in interviews at this time.
All interviews are instead being handled over the phone. The appropriate number to call for this interview is 1-800-669-4000. It is permissible to have your attorney present during this interview.
Filing at a Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA)
Another possible way to file a claim is at a Fair Employment Practices Agency, or FEPA. A FEPA is the state or local equivalent of the EEOC and are in many states or localities to enforce laws prohibiting employment discrimination. FEPAs are in place to enforce state or local laws that prohibit employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation within their local jurisdictions.
Examples of FEPAs include:
- The Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission (PHRC)
- The New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR) and
- The West Virginia Human Rights Commission (WVHRC).
The EEOC and most FEPAs have work-sharing agreements in place to prevent the duplication of effort in charge processing. When you file a claim with either the EEOC or a FEPA, the charge is automatically filed with the other agency. This is known as dual filing.
Essentially, this means if a charge is filed with the EEOC, a copy is provided to the relevant FEPA, but the charge is adjudicated by the EEOC. Similarly, if the charge is filed with a FEPA, a copy of the charge is provided to the EEOC, but the charge is adjudicated by the FEPA.
Please Note: Due to the on-going COVID-19 global pandemic, FEPA offices are also not open for in-person intake interviews.
Filing by Mail
The final way to file a charge with the EEOC is by mail. To do so, you need to simply send a letter to your local EEOC office containing the following information:
- Your name, address, email, and telephone number;
- The name, address, and telephone number of the employer (or the employment agency or union) that the claim is being filed against;
- The number of employees employed there (if known);
- A short description of the actions that are discriminatory (for example, being fired, demoted, harassed);
- When the discriminatory actions took place;
- Why you believe you were discriminated against (for example, because of your race, color, religion, sex [including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation], national origin, age [40 years and older], disability, genetic information, or retaliation; and
- Your signature.
Your signature is an essential part of the claim. If you do not sign the letter, your claim cannot be investigated.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
While you do not have to have an attorney to help you complete the initial EEOC filing, having an attorney can help to make the process easier overall. Most law firms don’t begin their representation until after you have received the Right to Sue letter from the EEOC.
J.P. Ward & Associates is different. Our dedicated employment law attorneys have developed a system designed to assist you with every step of the employment discrimination process.
From the moment that you first seek legal assistance, our lawyers will be there to help. We will help you through the process of obtaining a Notice of Right to Sue by being present at your client intake meeting or assisting you in drafting a letter to your local EEOC office.
Then, when you get the Notice of Right to Sue, J.P. Ward will assist you in filing a complaint against your employer, and serve as your representation. Our attorneys will also answer any and all questions that you may have along the way at any step of the process.
Let Us Help You Shoulder the Burden
J.P. Ward & Associates is different because we do things differently. We want to be sure that our clients receive the most effective legal help to have the greatest chance of success.
If you are interested in working with a law firm that puts your needs first, contact us by filing out this contact form, or by calling 877-259-WARD. We look forward to speaking with you and helping your resolve your employment discrimination concerns.
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