Have a general question about employment law? Want to share a story? I welcome all comments and questions. I can't give legal advice here about specific situations but will be glad to discuss general issues and try to point you in the right direction. If you need legal advice, contact an employment lawyer in your state. Remember, anything you post here will be seen publicly, and I will comment publicly on it. It will not be confidential. Govern yourself accordingly. If you want to communicate with me confidentially as Donna Ballman, Florida lawyer rather than as Donna Ballman, blogger, my firm's website is here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Everything Employees Need To Know About Filing With EEOC

EEOC is the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If you have been the victim of discrimination, this is likely the first step you’ll have to make before filing a lawsuit for discrimination. They’re at http://www.eeoc.gov.
Deadlines: If you work for anyone but the federal government, you have to file a charge of discrimination (this is not a lawsuit) within 180 days from the date of discrimination, except where the state has its own agency that takes discrimination charges. Then the deadline is 300 days. Federal employees have 45 days to see their designated EEO counselor.
            Filing your charge: If you’re represented, your attorney can file the charge for them and you don’t have to wait hours to meet with an investigator and go through the intake process, which can also take an hour or more. EEOC is also doing some intakes by phone and online, so check with your local office.
            Mediation: The EEOC will then either decide to ask the parties if they want to mediate to try to resolve it, or send it straight to the investigator. If they ask you if you want to mediate, you should say yes.
            Investigation: The investigator will send out a standard list of questions to the employer, along with the charge. The employer will answer in what is called a “Position Statement.”  You will then not be given a copy of the position statement, but you still have to respond to it. Some investigators will call your lawyer or you, give a quick summary of a 50 page position statement on the phone, expect the attorney or you to take notes, and then will give 10 days to respond. A nice investigator will agree to summarize the position statement in a letter, and then give 10 days to respond.
            Results: EEOC is, most likely, going to issue a “Notice of Dismissal and Right to Sue.”  This doesn’t mean you don’t have a case. It means EEOC was unable to determine whether or not you have cause for your charge because the evidence is disputed.
The other possibility is a “cause” finding. All you’ll likely get out of this, besides a moral victory, is “conciliation,”  an attempt to get the parties to settle. The other thing you get with a “cause” finding gets is a review by the EEOC’s attorneys. EEOC can bring a lawsuit on behalf of the employee. This almost never happens, so don’t count on it.

Donna’s tips:
a.       You may run into an investigator that will tell you that you don’t have a case. It’s still your right to file there and they have to take the charge if you insist. But they’re right if you’re trying to file for anything other than race, age, sex, national origin, genetic information, disability, religious, color, pregnancy discrimination or retaliation for having objected to one of these.
b.      The EEOC’s mediation program is quite excellent, so I always say yes to it. Many employers and charging parties decline, which is a missed opportunity. If there’s a lawsuit, they have to mediate anyhow, and this is free.
c.       The employer will be given almost infinite extensions in which to respond to your charge, which can cause the EEOC process to drag on about a year (lately, at least in my area, it’s taking around 2 years). You will not be given much more than a one week extension. Whether or not your lawyer or you are hospitalized, dying, on vacation, or kidnapped, the EEOC hates to give charging parties much of an extension to respond to a position statement. The most that is usually granted is 7 – 10 days.


  1. How exactly does one go about contacting you to submit a question? I don't see an email address and I don't tweet, space-page, linkster or any other social media.

    Thank you

  2. You can post your questions in the comments section here. You can also email me at ballmand@ballmanfirm.com with a notation in the subject line: Blog question

  3. I have a severe tramatic brain injury and I live in Fl.
    I was told I have 300 days to dual file but then the EEOC said I was 30 days late.
    I don't know if I was misled or if I miss understood and if there should have been understanding of my disability

    1. In general, you have 300 days from the date of discrimination to file with EEOC and 365 days to file with the Florida Commission on Human Relations. If you file with one you are automatically filed with both. I suggest contacting an attorney to get advice on this ASAP, but make sure you file with FCHR without delay.

  4. Received a letter from the EEOC today asking for an extension on my investigation 180 days are up. They also gave me 2 addidtional choices 1.Request administrative hearing or 2. Take my case to civil court. I don't know which is best.

  5. I did dual file but
    1) my employer is actually the Broward Clerk of Court
    2)I was personally hired by the Clerk Mr. Howard Forman
    3)I didn't even have to admit a full employment application.
    4) there is a lot of judicial prejudice to this case
    5) The EEOC office was actually in the courthouse
    6)I was fired when I had a seizure.
    7) Florida unemployment found in my favor but the court fought it twice and lost
    6)there is more but right now I can't remember all.

  6. What does conciliation entail?

  7. Would you go against the court itself(my employer )
    This is a case of great importance to 54 million disabled including veterans.


I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.