What Are the Federal EEOC Complaint Procedures?


Quick Answer

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission federal complaint procedures involve contacting an EEOC counselor, participating in an alternative dispute resolution program or counseling and then filing a formal complaint. Following an investigation, a complainant can ask for an agency decision or request a hearing. After the agency issues a final decision, the complainant can appeal.

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Full Answer

Within 45 days of the incident, the complainant must contact an EEOC counselor at the agency where he works or applied for work to report discrimination. The counselor allows the complainant to choose between EEOC counseling or an alternative dispute resolution program, which is usually mediation led by a neutral mediator. If one of these remedies does not settle the dispute, the complainant can complain formally within 15 days of receiving a notification from the counselor. If the agency does not dismiss the complaint due to a procedural error, it has 180 days to complete an investigation. The complainant then decides whether to ask for the agency's decision or request a hearing.

If the agency issues a final order concerning the alleged discrimination and the complainant does not agree, he can appeal the decision within 30 days. Under an appeal, EEOC attorneys review the complete case and uphold or overturn the final order. Within 30 days after the appeal decision, the complainant can request a reconsideration, but once the EEOC reaches a decision on the reconsideration, it is final. Before filing a lawsuit, a complainant must go through the initial stages of the complaint process.

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