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Ten Things You Need to Know Before You File an EEO Compliant - Part 1

May 8, 2017



So the organization and/or your supervisor did you wrong. Specifically what happened? When did it happen? What was going on? Were you fired? Were you demoted? Did you lose pay? Are you being harassed by a coworker, vendor, and/or supervisor? Did you tell anyone about it? What aspect of your employment do you feel is unfair? Is it covered under EEO? Are there any witnesses to the incident? What do you want? All these questions and more must be answered if you want to successfully file a complaint of employment discrimination.

This article is a summary of my professional responses to the most frequently asked questions by employees who are thinking of filing an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint. The information is based on my ten plus years of experience with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and my twenty-five years as a Human Resource (HR) Consultant. My comments reflect my observations over a career in taking EEO complaints, conducting EEO investigations and designing/delivering EEO training. This is not legal advice. I am not an attorney nor have I played one on TV. The best source of EEO legal information is EEOC. When in doubt go to www.eeoc.gov for answers to your legal questions. You can also call an EEOC district office in your immediate area by going to the same web site for a number.

The following are ten things you need to know before you file. If you understand them you have a better chance of filing a more accurate complaint of employment discrimination. I urge you to read this first to help you determine what actions you need to pursue. You may decide that your complaint more accurately falls under another complaint process.


So do your homework and read these ten points!

1. First, understand that unfair treatment in the workplace does not always mean unlawful treatment. Recognize that the employer’s actions may be totally unfair but not unlawful. Not all negative things that happen in the workplace violate the EEO laws or procedures. The actions of the organization and/or supervisor may make you feel lousy. You feel you have been wronged and it bothers you, but it may not be unlawful – just a You feel you have been wronged and it bothers you but it may not be unlawful – just a crappy unfair action. For example, it is not illegal to require a high school diploma. However, an employer may have to allow someone who says that a disability has prevented him/her from obtaining a high school diploma to demonstrate qualification for the job in some other way.

2. Review and Understand the EEO Laws. Do your homework. The EEOC enforces Federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.







Laws enforced by EEOC

Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) - This law makes it illegal to pay different wages to men and women if they perform equal work in the same workplace. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because he/she complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA) - This law makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because he/she complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate applicants' and employees' sincerely held religious practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.

· The Pregnancy Discrimination Act - This law amended Title VII to make it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because she complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) - This law protects people who are 40 or older from discrimination because of age. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because he/she complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.



Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 - This law makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability in the Federal government. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because he/she complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitation(s) of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business



Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) - This law makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability in the private sector and in state and local governments. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because he/she complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitation(s) of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.





Sections 102 and 103 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 - This law amends Title VII and the ADA to permit jury trials and compensatory and punitive damage awards in intentional discrimination cases.



The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) - This law makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information. Genetic information includes information about an individual's genetic tests and the genetic tests of an individual's family member(s), as well as information about any disease, disorder or condition of an individual's family member(s) (i.e. an individual's family medical history). The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because he/she complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Please do your homework and review each law at www.eeoc.gov.

These laws protect you against employment discrimination when it involves:

•Unfair treatment because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
•Harassment by managers, coworkers, or others in your workplace, because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
•Denial of a reasonable workplace accommodation that you need because of your religious beliefs or disability.
•Retaliation because you complained about job discrimination, or assisted with a job discrimination investigation or lawsuit.




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