What are the benefits of filing an EEOC discrimination charge?

If you have been subjected to a hostile/abusive work environment, harassment or unfair treatment because of your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability, you may be able to bring an employment discrimination lawsuit against your Employer.

However, under Pennsylvania Law, before you are able to bring an employment discrimination lawsuit against your Employer, you must first bring your complaint (also known as a “charge”) before a state or federal agency. You must first file an administrative charge for discrimination with the EEOC (federal agency) or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Committee “PHRC” (state agency). If you file an employment discrimination lawsuit without first filing a charge with the EEOC or PHRC, you case will likely be thrown out for failing to exhaust all administrative remedies.

When deciding whether to file your charge with the EEOC or PHRC, you should know the benefits of both. The EEOC, also known as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is a federal agency that enforces Federal Laws, which prohibit employment discrimination. The first benefit of filing your charge with the EEOC is that the EEOC enforces Federal Laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These laws sometimes provide greater remedies and can be used to your advantage.

When filing a charge with the EEOC, you must file it within 180 days of the alleged act of discrimination by your Employer. If you do not file your charge within that timeframe, you may lose your right to do so. The second benefit is that the EEOC 180 day deadline is extended to 300 days if there is also a Pennsylvania law, in addition to the Federal Law, that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis. Therefore, if your Employer’s alleged act of discrimination is prohibited under both Federal Law and State Law, you have 300 days from the alleged act of discrimination to file a charge with the EEOC.

After your charge is filed with the EEOC, you will receive a copy of it and your charge number within 10 days. Your charge will then be assigned to an investigator who will investigate the alleged act of discrimination. To try to resolve the matter, the investigator may suggest mediation. This is the third benefit to using the EEOC. The EEOC allows both you and your Employer to participate in mediation to try to reach a voluntary settlement. Mediation allows you and the employer to talk about your concerns. Mediators don’t decide who is right or wrong, but they are very good at suggesting ways to solve problems and disagreements. However, mediation is only possible if both you and the Employer agree.

The fourth benefit to the EEOC is that this agency give you the opportunity to bring suit against your Employer within 180 days of the filing of the charge – if you choose to do so. Before the EEOC finishes their investigation, you can request what is known as a “Notice of Right-to-Sue.” This letter allows you to bring suit against your Employer in a Court of Law. This is only issued if more than 180 days have passed from the day you filed your charge. You must request a Notice of Right to Sue in writing to the local EEOC office. However, once you have been given a Notice of the Right-to-Sue, the EEOC will close your case and take no further action. So if you want EEOC to continue investigating your charge, don’t request the Notice of Right-to-Sue.

These are just some of the benefits of filing you charge with the EEOC.