Filing a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The EEOC enforces Federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, and, in the EEOC’s view, gender identity and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by the laws the EEOC enforces.

In general, you need to file a charge within 180 calendar days from the day the discrimination took place. This deadline is extended to 300 calendar days if a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis. 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.


What can I expect?

Step 1

Gather information to file your complaint:

  • Your name, address, and telephone number

  • The name, address, and telephone number of the employer (or employment agency or union) you want to file a complaint 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 (such as your race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation, national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information)


Step 2

Decide how you want to file:

Step 3

After you file your complaint, we’ll give you a copy of it with a complaint number. We’ll review your complaint and contact you if we need more information. You can check the status of your complaint at any time.

Step 4

We will work with you to answer your questions and determine whether an investigation is the best course of action.

Step 5

If we determine the law may have been violated, we will try to reach a voluntary settlement with the employer. If we cannot reach a settlement, your case will be referred to our legal staff (or the U.S. Department of Justice in certain cases), who will decide whether the agency should file a lawsuit. If we decide not to file a lawsuit, we will give you a Notice-of-Right-to-Sue.