How to File an EEOC Retaliation Complaint

DSC_0619Understanding Retaliation

Before filing a retaliation complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), it is important to understand what retaliation is. In essence, retaliation occurs when an employer takes any adverse action against you because you engaged in a protected activity such as filing an employment discrimination claim or participating in an employment discrimination proceeding like a lawsuit or investigation.

According to the EEOC, “The law forbids retaliation when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.” For example, it is illegal for an employer to deny you a promotion because you participated in an employment discrimination investigation.

Retaliation is also prohibited when you request a reasonable accommodation based on religion or disability or oppose a practice you believe to be unlawful discrimination. Opposition, however, is not protected if it involves actions that interfere with your job performance enough to render you ineffective or illegal activities such as acts or threats of violence.

If you have faced retaliation, you can file a complaint with the EEOC. In most cases, you have 180 days to file. An employment lawyer can assist you during this process.

Where to File a Retaliation Complaint

You can file a complaint at the EEOC office closest to where you live or at one of the 53 field offices. Where the discrimination occurred can influence the investigation. For example, the EEOC office closest to where the discrimination occurred will most likely investigate your complaint. Additionally, if a state or local agency has a law prohibiting employment discrimination based on the same basis (in this case, retaliation), the deadline to file can be extended to 300 days.

Methods of Filing a Retaliation Complaint

You can file your complaint either in person or by mail.

If you file in person, keep in mind that not every field office works the same. They have different procedures regarding appointments and walk-ins. Contact your employment lawyer or the field office to learn what they are. Remember to bring any documents and information you have regarding the retaliation. You should also bring the names and contact information of any individuals who may have information about the retaliation. Your employment lawyer can accompany you.

If you file by mail, you must send a letter including the following information:

  • Your name, address, and phone number
  • The name, address, and phone number of the employer you are filing against
  • The number of employees employed there (if you know it)
  • A short description of the retaliation
  • Why you believe you were retaliated against
  • When the events took place
  • Your signature

It is extremely important that you sign this letter. An investigation cannot begin without your signature. Once you mail this letter, all of the information will be put into an official EEOC charge for you to sign.

An employment lawyer can assist you in filing an EEOC retaliation complaint. Do not hesitate to contact a lawyer if you have questions, especially if you are a job applicant or a federal employee since the process for these individuals is different.