U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

What You Can Expect After a Charge is Filed

Digital Charge System

EEOC's 53 offices have implemented Phase I of a Digital Charge System to transmit and receive notices and documents through a secure online portal for charges received by EEOC as of January 1, 2016.

When a charge is filed against an organization, EEOC will notify the organization within 10 days. A charge does not constitute a finding that your organization engaged in discrimination. The EEOC has authority to investigate whether there is reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred.

In many cases, the organization may choose to resolve a charge through mediation or settlement. At the start of an investigation, EEOC will advise both the organization and the charging party if the charge is eligible for mediation, but feel free to ask the investigator about the settlement option. Mediation and settlement are voluntary resolutions.

During the investigation, the organization and the Charging Party will be asked to provide information. The EEOC investigator will evaluate the information submitted and make a recommendation as to whether there is reasonable cause to believe that unlawful discrimination has taken place. The organization may be asked to:

  • submit a statement of position. This is the organization's opportunity to tell its side of the story. A resource guide on Effective Position Statements is available.
  • respond to a Request for Information (RFI). The RFI may ask the organization to submit personnel policies, Charging Party's personnel files, the personnel files of other individuals and other relevant information.
  • permit an on-site visit. Such visits greatly expedite the fact- finding process and may help achieve quicker resolutions. In some cases, an on- site visit may be an alternative to a RFI if requested documents are made available for viewing or photocopying.
  • provide contact information for or have employees available for witness interviews. A representative of the organization may be present during interviews with management personnel, but the EEOC investigator is allowed to conduct interviews of non-management level employees without the presence or permission of the organization.

There are many charges where it is unclear whether discrimination may have occurred and an investigation is necessary. Employers are encouraged to present any facts that they believe show the allegations are incorrect or do not amount to a violation of the law. An employer's input and cooperation will assist EEOC in promptly and thoroughly investigating a charge.

  • Work with the investigator to identify the most efficient and least burdensome way to gather relevant evidence.
  • You should submit a prompt response to the EEOC and provide the information requested, even if it is believed the charge does not have merit.

    If there are extenuating circumstances preventing a timely response from you, contact your investigator to work out a new due date for the information.

  • Provide complete and accurate information in response to requests from your investigator.
  • The average time it takes to investigate and resolve a charge was about 10 months in 2015.

    Our experience shows that undue delay in responding to requests for information extends the time it takes to complete an investigation.

  • EEOC is entitled to all information relevant to the allegations contained in the charge, and has the authority to subpoena such information. If you have concerns regarding the scope of the information requested, advise the EEOC investigator. In some instances, the information request may be modified.
  • Keep relevant documents. If you are unsure whether a document is needed, ask your investigator. By law, employers are required to keep certain documents for a set period of time.

EEOC will:

  • be available to answer questions about the investigation.
  • respond to inquiries about the status of the investigation, including the rights and responsibilities of the parties.
  • allow the organization to respond to the allegations.
  • conduct a timely investigation.
  • inform the organization of the outcome of the investigation.

Once the investigator has completed the investigation, EEOC will make a determination on the merits of the charge.

  • If EEOC is unable to conclude that there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred, the charging party will be issued a notice called a Dismissal and Notice of Rights. This notice informs the charging party that s/he has the right to file a lawsuit in federal court within 90 days from the date of its receipt. The employer will also receive a copy of this notice.
  • If EEOC determines there is reasonable cause to believe discrimination has occurred, both parties will be issued a Letter of Determination stating that there is reason to believe that discrimination occurred and inviting the parties to join the agency in seeking to resolve the charge through an informal process known as conciliation.
  • When conciliation does not succeed in resolving the charge, EEOC has the authority to enforce violations of its statutes by filing a lawsuit in federal court. If the EEOC decides not to litigate, the charging party will receive a Notice of Right to Sue and may file a lawsuit in federal court within 90 days.