How do I file a discrimination complaint with the EEOC?

In Person:

Contact the local EEOC office near you to report the discrimination and make an appointment. Some EEOC offices may also have walk-in times when you can file a complaint without an appointment. Check with the local office to find out if this is available. (For a list of local EEOC offices and contact information, see Appendix L, PG. 637.)

When you go to the EEOC office, bring any information or papers that are related to your situation. For example, you might bring a copy of the job posting or application, any letters or documents you received from the employer, notes that you took about discriminatory statements made by the employer, or a list of other people who know about what happened. You can also bring anyone you want to come with you, such as a friend, translator, or anyone else to provide assistance or support.

At the EEOC office, you will meet with an EEOC representative and complete a questionnaire to provide information about the job discrimination you experienced. The representative will ask you for details about your experience, the employer, and when and where the discrimination occurred, and will decide whether Title VII covers your situation. If so, the EEOC representative will explain the process for filing a formal complaint, called a "Charge of Discrimination," and will help you to write up and file the complaint if you want to go forward. (If Title VII does not cover your situation, the EEOC will give you information about where you can go for help, but you will not be able to file an EEOC complaint.)[1998]

By Mail:

You can file a complaint by writing a letter to the EEOC that includes the following information:

    Your name, address, and telephone number;
    The name, address and telephone number of the employer whom you want to file your charge against;
    How many employees work there (if you know this information);
    A description of the actions that you believe were discriminatory (for example, you were fired, demoted, harassed, or not hired);
    Why you believe you were discriminated against (for example, the employer hired other people with a similar criminal history, or did not require background checks for other applicants, or gave other applicants a chance to explain their conviction record; or the employer made biased comments);
    When the events took place; and
    Your signature (Important: The EEOC cannot investigate your complaint unless you sign the letter!).[1999]
    You can also include additional information or documents, such as copies of the job posting or application or names and contact information of other people who know what happened or have information.[2000] (Important: If you are sending documents, make sure you make a copy first—keep the original for yourself and send the copy to the EEOC.)

You can mail your letter or deliver it in person to the nearest EEOC office. The EEOC will contact you if they need more information about your situation and may send you a questionnaire to fill out and return. Afterward, they will put all your information into an official EEOC complaint (“charge”) form, and will contact you so that you can sign the form.[2001]

Note: You can also call the EEOC at 1-800-669-4000 to start the process, but you will still have to go through the steps above to file a formal written complaint.[2002]

  1. 1998

    EEOC, How to File a Charge of Employment Discrimination,; see also Oakland Local Office of EEOC, Filing a Charge with this Office,

  2. 1999

    EEOC, How to File a Charge of Employment Discrimination,

  3. 2000

    Oakland Local Office, EEOC, Filing a Charge with this Office,

  4. 2001

    EEOC, How to File a Charge of Employment Discrimination,

  5. 2002

    EEOC, How to File a Charge of Employment Discrimination,