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Introduction to the EEOC

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, commonly referred to as the EEOC, is a vital federal agency established under United States law. Its main function is to enforce civil rights laws against workplace discrimination. This agency operates under the guidance of a group of commissioners and is responsible for monitoring and addressing complaints against employers who violate specific civil rights statutes.

Key Laws Enforced by the EEOC

The EEOC is tasked with the enforcement of five primary laws:

  1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  2. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
  3. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  4. The Equal Pay Act
  5. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

These laws collectively cover various forms of discrimination including those based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information. The EEOC plays a crucial role in ensuring that employees are treated fairly under these statutes.

How the EEOC Operates

The EEOC serves as a neutral third-party agency that investigates claims of discrimination. If an employee believes they have been discriminated against, they can bring their claim to the EEOC, which will then assess the claim within certain statutory limitations. The agency employs a team of investigators who determine whether there has indeed been a violation of the law. If a violation is found, the EEOC may issue a “cause finding,” attempt to mediate or conciliate the case, or ultimately provide the complainant with a “notice of right to sue,” allowing them to pursue litigation against the employer in federal or state court.

When to File a Charge with the EEOC

It is important for employees who suspect discrimination to act promptly. The EEOC requires that claims be filed within specific time limits, which can be either 180 or 300 days from the incident, depending on the law and the state where the incident occurred. Not all employers are covered under EEOC-enforced laws; for instance, Title VII applies only to employers with 15 or more employees.

If considering filing a charge, it is advisable to consult with an experienced employment attorney. Lawyers familiar with EEOC procedures can help draft the charge, submit it, and guide the employee through the process, increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

The EEOC Mediation and Conciliation Processes


Before a full investigation is launched, the EEOC may offer mediation, a voluntary process where an EEOC mediator helps the employee and employer resolve the issue. This process can be quicker and less costly than a formal investigation and often results in a settlement that both parties can accept.


If the EEOC finds that discrimination occurred, they move to conciliation. Unlike mediation, conciliation occurs after an official cause finding. The EEOC loses its neutral stance and works to negotiate a resolution to the conflict, including possible remedies or settlements for the employee.

Challenges with the EEOC Process

Despite its critical role, the EEOC often faces challenges such as understaffing, which can delay investigations and frustrate all parties involved. It’s beneficial for employees to have legal representation throughout the process to ensure their rights are protected and to potentially expedite proceedings.

Conclusion: The Value of Legal Expertise

Navigating the EEOC’s processes can be complex. Engaging an attorney who understands these processes and has experience dealing with the EEOC can be invaluable. A skilled lawyer can ensure proper handling of your case from initial filing through mediation, conciliation, or litigation, helping to secure the best possible outcome for your situation.

J. Horowitz
J. Horowitz

J. Horowitz leverages over two decades of experience as a seasoned employment law attorney in Arizona to offer insightful freelance writing on the same subject. After a successful career advocating for fairness and justice in the workplace, J. now dedicates his expertise to writing comprehensive articles, blog posts, and thought leadership pieces that illuminate the complexities of employment law.