The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) is a federal agency that is vested with responsibility for enforcing anti-discrimination laws. The EEOC enforces rules set by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, and color. The EEOC also enforces the rules established by the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prevent employers from discrimination on the basis of disability status or being 40 years of age or older, respectively.
If you suspect you are being victimized by discrimination at work and want to sue under federal law, you may be required to first file a charge with the EEOC. However, this is not the case for all types of discrimination, and it is common for workers to go on to file lawsuits even when the EEOC conducts investigations. To find out how to work with the EEOC and to protect your right to pursue legal action, you should reach out to Baltimore employment lawyers for assistance if you are a victim of discrimination.
What Does the EEOC Do?
The EEOC is vested with a lot of responsibility for preventing unlawful discrimination in the workplace. The EEOC can promulgate rules and regulations within the scope of its authority and can provide guidance on how federal anti-discrimination laws can be applied to protect workers’ rights. Companies and employees need to understand EEOC rules because regulations promulgated by the Commission can greatly impact how employers interact with workers when it comes to civil rights issues.
The EEOC can also conduct an investigation if a worker makes a complaint against an employer who is covered by EEOC laws, as most employers are if they have at least 15 employees. The EEOC will evaluate the claims made against employers and will make a finding. If the EEOC determines that the employer engaged in unlawful discriminatory behavior, the Commission will try to settle the case. If no settlement is reached, the EEOC can file a lawsuit and litigate the case.
While discrimination victims may be required to make their complaint with the EEOC first for certain kinds of discrimination claims arising under federal law before filing a lawsuit in civil court, many discrimination victims do go on to sue their employers.
The EEOC, upon closing its investigation or if victims wish to pursue private legal action, can provide victims affected by unlawful discriminatory behavior with a Notice of a Right to Sue. While this is not required in all cases — for example, it is not necessary for lawsuits brought under the Equal Pay Act — getting this right to sue notice from the EEOC may be a precursor to pursuing a damage claim in civil court.
Baltimore employment lawyers can help you to understand how the EEOC will act to protect you, what is involved in an EEOC investigation, and whether you should pursue a private claim against a discriminatory employer even though the EEOC does have investigative powers. Contact The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C. at 410-514-6099 or get in touch online today if you are the victim of discrimination to find out more.