Unfortunately, discrimination and harassment in the workplace can occur in a number of different forms. Fortunately, there are a variety of federal and state laws in place to protect employees and job applicants. When discrimination occurs, those individuals have the right to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 84,254 discrimination charges were filed in 2017. While the majority of the charges were related to retaliation, claims were also filed for race, sex, national origin, religion, color, age, disability, equal pay, and genetic information.
If you’ve faced harassment or discrimination in the workplace, you deserve justice for the negligent party’s actions. Dealing with the EEOC isn’t always an easy task, and the process can be incredibly long. Seeking legal representation may ease the process; however, before you file your charge or speak to an attorney, you may want some information on what the EEOC is, how they handle discrimination charges for thousands of people, and what our Little Rock EEOC lawyers can do for you.
What is the EEOC?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a government agency, established by the Civil Rights Acts of 1964. The EEOC exists to interpret and enforce the existing laws that prohibit various forms of discrimination.
Those laws include the following:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on race, color, national origin, gender/sex, and religion.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA protects employees and applicants with disabilities from workplace discrimination. If an applicant or employee can prove they have a disability, they are protected under this act. In addition to this protection, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for their employees and prospective employees with disabilities.
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The ADEA bans age discrimination for applicants and employees who are 40 years of age or older.
- The Equal Pay Act. The Equal Pay Act requires employers to pay men and women the same amount for doing the same work.
- The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. GINA prohibits employers from gathering genetic information about their employees and applicants, in most situations. Employers are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of genetics, including familial history and diseases.
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers from discriminating against women during pregnancy or after childbirth. This includes complications resulting from pregnancy or childbirth.
What Does the EEOC Do?
As mentioned above, the EEOC is responsible for interpreting the enforcing civil rights laws in the workplace. Because of this, they have a number of duties.
When Congress passes discrimination laws, the EEOC establishes the regulations to interpret the law. These regulations define important terms used in the statute, establish procedures for enforcing the law, and essentially clear up any confusion so employees and employers understand their rights and obligations.
The EEOC is also responsible for equal employment opportunity compliance in the federal government. When a federal employee wishes to file a discrimination claim, they must first do so with their own agency. If the employee isn’t satisfied with the outcome, they can make an appeal to the EEOC.
One of the primary functions of the EEOC is to field complaints of discrimination from employees and applicants. When the EEOC receives the complaint, there are procedures in place that determine how the claim is handled.
How Does the EOOC Claim Process Work?
Charges filed with the EEOC, in most circumstances, must be filed with 180 days of the discriminatory incident. Approximately ten days after the initial filing, the EEOC sends a complaint notice to the employer. From here, there are a variety of ways the case could go.
If the EEOC determines the charge has no jurisdiction, they may dismiss the charge.
If they feel there may be a case, they will investigate the incident. They will likely speak with the employee and employer, interview witnesses, collect applicable documents, and possibly visit the workplace. They will also ask the employer to file a written answer to the charge. This is called the respondent’s position statement. The employee may be given the opportunity to respond to provide additional information for the claim.
In the event the EEOC tries to mediate the settlement, the employee and employer will be asked to sit with a neutral third party to come up with a solution to the problem. If a solution is formed, the settlement will resolve the case.
In rare cases, the EEOC has the right to litigate the charge itself on behalf of the employee.
An employee has the right to file a lawsuit while the EEOC is processing the charge, otherwise, the EEOC will issue a right to sue letter to the employee once it finishes processing the claim if discrimination was not determined. The charge may then proceed to court. At this point, working with a reliable attorney is a smart decision.
How Can a Little Rock EEOC Lawyer Make the Process Easier?
While civil rights laws typically dictate you to file a workplace discrimination claim with the EEOC first, you have the right to seeking legal representation after you’ve done so.
Our Arkansas EEOC lawyers will help you seek full and fair relief that may include remedies for back pay, hiring, promotion, reinstatement, front pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. Our lawyers have decades of experience in employment litigation. Contact us today for a consultation.