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How to File a Charge of Employment Discrimination

Note: Federal employees and job applicants have a different complaint process.

You may file a charge of employment discrimination at the EEOC office closest to where you live, or at any one of the EEOCís 53 field offices.  Your charge, however, may be investigated at the EEOC office closest to where the discrimination occurred.  If you are a U.S. citizen working for an American company overseas, you should file your charge with the EEOC field office closest to your employerís corporate headquarters.

Where the discrimination took place can determine how long you have to file a charge. The 180 calendar day filing deadline is extended to 300 calendar days if a state or local agency enforces a state or local law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis. The rules are slightly different for age discrimination charges. For age discrimination, the filing deadline is only extended to 300 days if there is a state law prohibiting age discrimination in employment and a state agency or authority enforcing that law. The deadline is not extended if only a local law prohibits age discrimination.

Many states and localities have agencies that enforce laws prohibiting employment discrimination. EEOC refers to these agencies as Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs). EEOC and some FEPAs have worksharing agreements in place to prevent the duplication of effort in charge processing. According to these agreements, if you file a charge with either EEOC or a FEPA, the charge also will be automatically filed with the other agency. This process, which is defined as dual filing, helps to protect charging party rights under both federal and state or local law.

Online Assessment System

EEOC does not accept charges online. However, we do have an online assessment tool that can help you decide if EEOC is the correct agency to assist you. You can then complete an Intake Questionnaire that you may print and either bring or mail to the appropriate EEOC field office to begin the process of filing a charge.

Filing in Person

Each field office has its own procedures for appointments or walk-ins. Please check our field office list for your office's procedures.

It is always helpful if you bring with you to the meeting any information or papers that will help us understand your case. For example, if you were fired because of your performance, you might bring with you the letter or notice telling you that you were fired and your performance evaluations. You might also bring with you the names of people who know about what happened and information about how to contact them.

You can bring anyone you want to your meeting, especially if you need language assistance and know someone who can help. You can also bring your lawyer, although you donít have to hire a lawyer to file a charge. If you need special assistance during the meeting, like a sign language or foreign language interpreter, let us know ahead of time so we can arrange for someone to be there for you.

By Telephone

Although we do not take charges over the phone, you can get the process started over the phone. You can call 1-800-669-4000 to submit basic information about a possible charge, and we will forward the information to the EEOC field office in your area. Once the field office receives your information, they will contact you to talk to you about your situation.

By Mail

You can file a charge by sending us a letter that includes the following information:

  • Your name, address, and telephone number
  • The name, address and telephone number of the employer (or employment agency or union) you want to file your charge against
  • The number of employees employed there (if known)
  • A short description of the events you believe were discriminatory (for example, you were fired, demoted, harassed)
  • When the events took place
  • Why you believe you were discriminated against (for example, because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information)
  • Your signature

Donít forget to sign your letter. If you donít sign it, we cannot investigate it.

Your letter will be reviewed and if more information is needed, we will contact you to gather that information or you may be sent a follow up questionnaire. At a later date, we will contact you and may put all of the information you sent us on an official EEOC charge form and ask you to sign it.