Under numerous circumstances, individuals wishing to hold an entity or entities accountable for legal conduct benefit both from filing a civil lawsuit and from alerting government agencies to the situation at hand. These simultaneous actions are often undertaken in both personal injury and business litigation scenarios. In the employment law context however, individuals must often alert a specific government agency to their plight before they can legally file an employment discrimination lawsuit.
This is not to say that individuals experiencing employment discrimination should not contact an attorney as soon as they have questions about their situation. In fact, an experienced attorney can help individuals determine whether they should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the first place. In addition, an attorney with experience in employment law matters can also help to guide individuals through the reporting process and with any lawsuits that may be filed in the wake of it.
If you and an attorney decide that it is prudent to file a complaint with the EEOC, you must generally file it within 180 days of experiencing the illegal behavior you wish to report. Under certain circumstances, you may be able to file your complaint within 300 days of the behavior. Upon filing, you will be asked to complete an intake form containing basic information about you, your employer and the situation you wish to report.
After the EEOC has received your complaint, the agency will send you a confirmation that it has done so. The agency then has 180 days to process and ultimately investigate your complaint. It will then determine whether to take additional action or allow you to proceed with a personal lawsuit.
Source: Findlaw Law & Daily Life, “Legal How-To: Filing an EEOC Workplace-Discrimination Complaint,” Brett Snider, July 15, 2014