How to File for Discrimination in the Workplace

P - scalesDespite laws protecting employees, discrimination in the workplace still occurs sometimes. It is illegal to be discriminated against at work for the following:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy)
  • National origin
  • Age (40 or older)
  • Disability
  • Genetic information

If you have experienced workplace discrimination, you should file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). The EEOC is a federal agency that enforces civil rights laws. In most cases, you MUST file a Charge of Discrimination before you can bring a discrimination lawsuit against your employer.

Time Limits for Filing

Generally, you have 180 calendar days from the time the discrimination occurred to file a charge with the EEOC. If a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis, that deadline can be extended to 300 days. There are exceptions, though. For example, in age discrimination cases, the deadline can only be extended if a state agency enforces a law that prohibits this type of discrimination; a local agency’s enforcement is not enough. Contact an employment lawyer or an EEOC field office to determine whether you still have time to file.

Where to File

You can file a charge 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 charge.

Methods of Filing

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

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

If you file your charge by mail, you must submit 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 discrimination (e.g., you were harassed and/or demoted)
  • Why you believe you were discriminated against (e.g., race or color)
  • When the events took place
  • Your signature

It is important that you remember to sign this letter. An investigation cannot begin without your signature. All of this information will be put into an official EEOC charge for you to sign.

Dual Filing

The EEOC is a federal agency. State and local agencies also enforce laws that prohibit employment discrimination. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania enforces those laws through the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (“PHRC”). If you file with the EEOC or the PHRC, your charge can be automatically filed with the other agency should you request it. This dual filing process protects your rights under both federal and state laws.

You are protected from retaliation if you engage in any discrimination claim against an employer. For example, an employer cannot harass or otherwise retaliate against you because you filed a Charge of Discrimination.

Filing for discrimination in the workplace may seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, an employment lawyer can help guide you through this process. You should direct any questions you may have to your employment lawyer, especially if you are a federal employee or a job applicant. The process for these individuals differs.


If you would like legal counsel, contact an employment lawyer who will know how to navigate your situation and what your rights are under the law.

Don’t hesitate, talk to an employment attorney: (412) 626-5626 or