What is the role of the EEOC and who else can be a Plaintiff in a Consent Decree?


The EEOC is the agency charged with enforcing federal laws that prohibit job discrimination. Sex discrimination in the workplace is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). The EEOC investigates discrimination claims and advocates for employees who have faced discrimination.


Because the EEOC is responsible for remedying discrimination in the workplace, it often plays an important role in drafting of consent decrees. The EEOC may enter any action where its participation is needed to enforce the protections of Title VII. Typically, attorneys from the EEOC will work with plaintiffs and defendants to bring your workplace into compliance with Title VII. Depending on the facts of your case, you may benefit from having your own attorney. The EEOC is charged with advancing broad public policy interests, while you may have more narrow interests and may wish for different concession from your employer. Your private attorney will work to protect your own interests. The EEOC has a broad responsibility to protect women in the workplace and may push beyond your immediate goals in an effort to protect other women who have not yet complained of discrimination.


Any women can join (or “intervene in”) your action if she acts quickly enough, and she meets certain conditions. Her claim must be very similar to your own and she must show that her rights are not adequately represented by the EEOC if it is involved. A woman might want to intervene if the consent decree would affect her and her input in consent decree drafting process was necessary to protect her interests. Courts will generally allow a woman to intervene if she her interests would not otherwise be adequately protected.


If there are a particularly large number of women affected by the discrimination at your workplace, the court may choose to create a group of women with typical complaints who will represent the larger “class” of women plaintiffs. The outcome of the trial will then apply to those women whose own situations are similar but who were not able to be present in court for practical reasons.


If you decide, based upon your initial research, that filing a claim with the EEOC is what you want to do, you can find your state EEOC office on the EEOC website.


Federal employee must go to the Federal Sector of the EEOC website to learn how to process your complaint.


What information do I need to file a claim with the EEOC?

You will need the following information to file a claim:
Your contact information (name, address, and telephone number);
The contact information for your employer and the number of workers they employ if known;
A short description of the alleged violation(s) and corresponding dates (your adjudicative facts).


Do I need to be aware of a deadline for filing an EEOC claim?

There are time limits for filing a claim with the EEOC (the time limits will likely be different if you decided to file using state law or through a local administrative agency). The following is some information that may help you file your claims correctly:

For laws enforced by the EEOC (except the Equal Pay Act) you should file a claim with the EEOC before pursuing private/individual actions against your employer.

You have 180 days from the date of the alleged violation, and this deadline can be extended to 300 days if a state or local anti-discrimination law also covers the charge.

Local and state anti-discrimination agencies usually have work-sharing agreements with the EEOC. This is done so that the two agencies do not waste resources. You should not try to work with the two agencies separately. If the EEOC decides to retain your case they will create “dual files”, may work with your local agency, and use your state laws as well as federal law.


How will the EEOC deal with my claim?

Once a charge has been filed your employer will be notified. There are a variety of ways the EEOC will then deal with the complaint:


-It may be assigned priority investigation if the initial facts appear to support a violation of law.


-When the evidence is less strong, the charge may be assigned for follow up investigation to determine whether it is likely that a violation has occurred.


-The EEOC can seek to settle a charge at any stage of the investigation if you and your employer express an interest in doing so. If settlement efforts are not successful, the investigation will continue.


-In investigating a charge the EEOC may make written requests for information, interview people, review documents, and, as needed, visit the facility where the alleged discrimination occurred. When the investigation is complete, the EEOC will discuss the evidence with you or your employer, as appropriate.


It may be selected for the EEOC’s mediation program if you and your employer express an interest in this option. Mediation is offered as an alternative to a lengthy investigation. Participation in the mediation program is confidential, voluntary, and requires the consent of your employer and you. If mediation is unsuccessful the charge is returned for investigation.


It may be dismissed at any point if the EEOC believes that further investigation will not establish a violation of the law. A charge may be dismissed at the time it is filed if an initial in-depth interview does not produce evidence to support the claim. When a charge is dismissed a notice is issued that gives you 90 days to file a lawsuit on your own behalf.


The case can be successfully conciliated. However, once a case is fully mediated or settled, the EEOC and you cannot go to court unless it is not followed.The agency can decide to bring suit in federal court.


Note: If your case is against a state or local government the Department of Justice is the agency that will handle your Title VII case.


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