EEOC Charges & Notices of Right to Sue

Martin & Martin’s Employment Law Practice The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Some federal employment laws require that the employee file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prior to filing a federal lawsuit. The EEOC is the federal agency that has authority to investigate federal employment law violations by employers across the country. The EEOC has district offices located throughout the country, including on one in Atlanta.

Atlanta employment law attorneys at the Georgia boutique law firm, Martin & Martin, regularly represent employees at the EEOC, filing the Charge on their behalf. The employment laws that require that a Charge be filed include Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA.

A Charge is a one-page form that includes:

  • The worker’s contact information;
  • The employer’s contact information;
  • The basis for the Charge (e.g., discrimination on the basis of disability);
  • The adverse employment (or other) actions taken by the employer (termination);
  • The dates of the adverse actions;
  • A request by the worker that the EEOC investigate the allegations; and
  • The date and employee’s signature.

In Georgia, the Charge must be filed no later than 180 days from the date of the adverse employment (or other) action. For example, an employee who is terminated, must file a Charge within 180 days of the date of termination. An employee who is retaliated against must file a Charge within 180 days of the date of retaliation. 180 days is not the same as six months. So, when calculating the deadline, an employee must count 180 days from the adverse employment action. In addition to the Charge, the EEOC asks the employee to fill out the Questionnaire that asks for additional information about the allegations, names of witnesses, etc.

While an employee is not required to have an attorney draft or file the Charge on their behalf, Atlanta employment law attorneys, Kimberly Martin and Tom Martin, typically draft and file Charges on behalf of their clients if the Charges have not already been filed to ensure that all of the proper information (and nothing more) is stated in the Charge. They also assist their clients with filing the EEOC Questionnaire. Once an employee (or their attorney) files a Charge, the employee must wait for the EEOC to issue a document called a Notice of Right to Sue (NRTS) prior to being permitted to file their federal discrimination/termination lawsuit. An employee has 90 days from the date of the NRTS to file their federal lawsuit.

Typically, once an employee files a Charge, the EEOC sends the Charge to the employer and offers the parties the opportunity for mediation. If either party declines the offer, the EEOC assigns an investigator who conducts an investigation of the allegations. As a starting point, the EEOC requires that the employer to file a Statement of Position (SOP) in response to the Charge addressing all of the allegations and attaching all of the relevant documents.

During the investigation, the investigator has the right to contact and interview witnesses and require that the company produce additional documents and information. Upon conclusion of the investigation, the EEOC typically notifies the employee that it was unable to make a decision on whether the company violated any federal employment law. Only occasionally does the EEOC make a finding that based on the evidence, the company violated federal law. However, the decision by the EEOC is not binding. This means that when the EEOC finds that it cannot make a decision on whether a violation occurred, it does not mean that the employee loses the case. And, when the EEOC finds that the company violated federal law, it does not mean that the employee wins the case. The EEOC’s finding simply means that the EEOC is issuing a NRT so that the employee and the company can litigate the allegations in federal court.

Because the findings of the EEOC are not binding and because the investigation can take upwards of 18 months or more, many Atlanta employment law attorneys representing employees proactively request that the EEOC issue the NRTS at the same time or shortly after they file the Charge so that the employee can go to federal court immediately rather than participate in a slow investigative process that is not binding. This ensures that witnesses can be located and attorneys can take their depositions in a timely manner before they forget important details and it means that relevant documents are preserved and produced in a timely manner.

Atlanta employment law attorneys, Tom Martin and Kimberly Martin, routinely file Charges with the EEOC on behalf of their clients. They welcome the opportunity to speak with employees who have employment law questions, including questions about the EEOC. Fill out the Contact Us form or call the firm directly for same day free consultations.

For more information on specific employment laws, please see the following pages.