The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces laws regarding particular types of discrimination.  EEOC laws apply to all federal agencies and many state and local agencies.  If you aren’t sure whether your agency qualifies, contact an EEOC field office as soon as possible for assistance. The EEOC handles claims of discrimination on the basis of:

  • Race;                                                    
  • Color;
  • Religion;
  • Sex (including pregnancy);
  • National origin;
  • Age (40 or older);
  • Disability;
  • Genetic information; or
  • Having previously complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Discrimination can occur at any stage of employment, including recruitment, job application, pre-employment inquiries, training and apprenticeship, hiring, terms and conditions of employment, harassment, pay and benefits, job referrals, assignments and promotions, discipline and discharge, employment references, dress codes, reasonable accommodation for disability or religion, constructive discharge or forcing resignations.

If you believe you experienced discrimination of one of these types in most cases, you must go through the EEOC complaint procedure before filing a lawsuit in court.  With some exceptions, you must initiate the EEOC process within 45 days of the alleged discrimination. 

The process is different for federal employees than for state / local government employees:

  •  State and local employees must a file a charge of discrimination, after which they may participate in mediation efforts.  If these fail, the EEOC will take a look at the charge to ensure it has jurisdiction and, if so, will conduct an investigation.  If the EEOC finds no violation of the law, it will send you a Notice-of-Right-to-Sue, which gives you permission to file a lawsuit in a court of law.  Please check the EEOC website for more information.

PEER typically does not handle EEO cases. If you feel you have a claim, please consult your EEO office, and/or speak with an experienced attorney.  A directory of EEO practitioners representing employees can be found at the National Employment Lawyers Association website.