01 Jul 2021

How to File an EEOC Charge for Discrimination

file an eeoc charge houston

Employment law is complex. Oftentimes, employee rights violations require you to file an EEOC charge before a lawsuit. Employees don’t always realize this when things become heated in the workplace. 

When you want to sue for discrimination or a hostile work environment, there’s a process to follow. Moreover, you must register a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) first. 

Here’s a breakdown of the who, what, when, where, and why of EEOC claims for discrimination. 

Note: While you have the option to file on your own, it’s a good idea to work with a Houston employment lawyer.

The Who and Where

The EEOC is a federal agency that investigates claims of workplace violations rooted in a protected class. Oftentimes, these complaints boil down to discrimination and retaliation

Here are the standard protected classes per the EEOC: 

  • Age 
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • National origin 
  • Race
  • Religion

Typically, retaliation covers negative actions employers take when an employee reports discrimination. However, it also covers employees who support a coworker in their report or participates in an investigation. 

The EEOC has counterparts in every state as well as branches across the United States. In Texas, the EEOC works with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division. As they share jurisdiction in the state, they often work together. 

This allows employees to file an EEOC charge OR work with the TWC. Then, the two organizations share the information. 

What to Do When You File an EEOC Charge

So, what does it take to file a charge with the EEOC? Once you file your document, the agency calls for a charge of discrimination. This form requires certain information regarding both you and your employer. 

Next, it involves a small amount of information gathering. This pertains to the specific nature of your claim. 

How to File a Discrimination Charge with the EEOC

There are a couple of ways to file a charge for discrimination. Technically, you don’t need a lawyer to do so. However, an experienced employment lawyer knows the ins and outs of EEOC claims. Additionally, they help you expedite the process instead of searching for the right forms. 

Typically, this is how to process goes when you tackle it by yourself. 

  1. Visit the EEOC website 
  2. Locate the correct forms 
  3. Fill it out online and provide the required information
  4. Wait…
  5. Discuss your claim with an EEOC investigator 
  6. An investigation takes place 

Oftentimes, this process takes weeks or months due to how busy the EEOC is at any given time. Alternatively, with a qualified employment lawyer, you have someone to handle it for you. 

Typically, an attorney has the experience necessary to make this process smoother and faster. Additionally, they ensure you cross all the Ts and dot all the Is. This helps because down the road should you decide to file a lawsuit. When you file an EEOC charge, the details limit your options for a lawsuit. 

With an attorney as your advocate, you keep your bases covered. 

When to File an EEOC Charge

When you want to file a charge with the EEOC, the timeline is critical. You want to file your complaint as soon as possible. State and federal laws both establish different timelines and deadlines. 

  • Per federal law, you have up to 300 days from the date of the workplace violation. For instance, this might be the date of a wrongful termination. 
  • Under state law, you have a mere 180 days to file your charge. 

At first, this sounds like plenty of time. However, it’s easy for the process to drag on as you work to gather evidence. Moreover, it gives the employer more time to build evidence for their defense. 

When you feel that you have a claim of retaliation or discrimination, it’s important to act quickly. Contact an employment lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your best course of action. 

Why File an EEOC Charge?

When you want to claim discrimination or retaliation against your employer, you don’t have the option to go straight to court. The law requires that you take this step so that a state or federal agency has an opportunity to investigate. 

Whether you file with the EEOC or TWC, it’s important to file in the first place. What’s the difference between the two? 

State and federal discrimination laws differ in some respects. For certain claims, there might be an advantage to filing on a federal level vs through the state. Unfortunately, this makes employment law all the more complex. Much like with personal injury claims, optimization requires experience. Without experience and expertise, it’s hard to know what your best option is. 

When you hope to file an EEOC charge for discrimination in Houston, contact an employment lawyer with the experience to guide you. With the right representation, you have an advocate to protect your rights and a guide to offer advice.