This is one of the most common questions an employment lawyer receives. The answer varies depending on the situation, however, a couple of common routes typically apply.
If your employer has provided you with an employee handbook, the process for making a complaint for race, gender, age, or disability discrimination is usually included in the handbook. At a larger business, there may be a specific person with the Human Resources department who handles all complaints. However, in a smaller company you may be forced to discuss the issue with your supervisor or the business owner. If the supervisor is involved in the discrimination or sexual harassment, it is often acceptable to complain to someone at a higher level of authority regarding the actions.
If an internal complaint is not effective in resolving the issue, it is then appropriate to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (the “EEOC”). Most employment attorneys are willing to walk you through this process. If you decide to proceed with your EEOC without an attorney, it is best to contact the agency promptly to avoid being time-barred from a legal remedy.
Normally, charges must be filed with EEOC within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act. In some jurisdictions, where you are required to file a charge first with the State or other local agency, you may file charges with EEOC within 300 days of the discriminatory act, or 30 days after receiving notice that the state or local agency has terminated its processing of the charge, whichever is earlier.
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