Taking that next step can be difficult. But, you can’t afford to wait. If you miss the deadline for filing your EEOC charge, you may waive your rights to remedies.
What is an EEOC Charge?
An EEOC charge is the formal discrimination complaint you file against your employer. The charge starts the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission proceedings. You may also file charges with state agencies or cross-file to authorize both state and federal agencies to review your claim. You have only 300 days to file your EEOC charge in Tennessee and even less time in Mississippi, which imposes a short 180-day deadline. Your employer may try to dispute the tolling of the statute of limitations, so you should pay careful attention to when the clock starts ticking. In the case of a single act of discrimination, the clock starts as of that event, such as the date you were fired. If you experienced multiple discriminatory conduct, such as shift reassignment, demotion and then termination, the deadline applies to each act. Tolling starts as of the last incident of harassment if you are the victim of ongoing harassment. Figuring out the deadline is complicated. We, therefore, recommend you speak to your lawyer even if you believe you have missed the deadline.
Filing an EEOC Charge
Charges may be filed in person or by mail to the appropriate field office. Although the EEOC doesn’t accept online charge applications, the agency does have an online assessment tool. The questionnaire makes a basic determination whether the EEOC is authorized to process your complaint. We caution that the law is nuanced and you may actually be entitled to EEOC protection or you may have other remedies available to you despite the results of the assessment tool.
After You File Your EEOC Charge
Upon filing the EEOC charge, your case may take a variety of paths. Basically, you can expect these outcomes:
- Mediation. You and your employer may agree to EEOC mediation to negotiation a voluntary settlement.
- Investigation. The EEOC requests documents from your employer and may interview key people or make an onsite visit.
- Employer subpoena. If your employer refuses to cooperate, the EEOC has authority to subpoena important documents, witness testimony or right of entry to your workplace.
- Voluntary settlement. If the EEOC determines your employer did in fact discriminate against you, the agency usually attempts to reach a voluntary settlement based upon its findings.
- EEOC lawsuit. The EEOC may decide to file a lawsuit, acting as the plaintiff.
- Notice of Right to Sue. Alternatively, the EEOC may give you a Notice of Right to Sue, which is exactly what it sounds like, a letter that grants you access to the courts.
Get Advice You Can Trust
If you suspect your employer discriminated against you, schedule a free case evaluation with Johnson & Bennett. Our Tennessee and Mississippi EEOC law firm can assess the validity of your claim, explain your options and help you through each step of the process.