How does the investigation process work?
Filing a Complaint (see above).Notifying the Employer.
Within 10 days, the EEOC will send a notice and a copy of the charge to the employer. The EEOC may ask both you and the employer to agree to participate in mediation, which is an informal way of trying to resolve the problem instead of filing a lawsuit.
If your case is not sent to mediation, or if mediation doesn’t resolve the problem, the EEOC will ask the employer to respond (submit a written answer) to the charges, and answer any questions that the EEOC has about your complaint. Then your complaint will be given to an EEOC investigator for investigation.
How the EEOC investigates a complaint depends on the specific facts of your case and the kinds of information that will be helpful. In some cases, an EEOC representative may visit the employer, interview other employees or witnesses, and gather documents. The EEOC may also interview you again, or ask you for more documents or information. It’s very important to cooperate and keep in touch with the EEOC!
After the investigation is completed, the EEOC will issue a decision to let you and the employer know the results. The decision will say either:
- NO CAUSE—meaning the EEOC did NOT find any evidence that the employer illegally discriminated against you; or
- REASONABLE CAUSE—meaning the EEOC thinks the employer DID illegally discriminate against you.
Your Options After the EEOC Decision.
Depending on what the EEOC decision says, these are your options:
- If “NO CAUSE” found—The EEOC will send you a Right-to-Sue notice, which allows you to file a lawsuit in court against the employer on your own. You must file a lawsuit within 90 days (approximately 3 months) after receiving the Right-to-Sue Notice; otherwise it will be too late.
- If “REASONABLE CAUSE” found—The EEOC will try to reach a voluntary settlement (called “conciliation”) with the employer. Conciliation is usually a request for the employer to pay you to cover harm caused by the discrimination.
- If the EEOC can’t reach a settlement with the employer, the EEOC may decide to file a lawsuit against the employer on your behalf.
- If the EEOC decides not to file a lawsuit, it will give you a Right-to-Sue notice, which allows you to file a lawsuit against the employer on your own. You must file a lawsuit within 90 days (approximately 3 months) of receiving the Right-to-Sue Notice; otherwise it will be too late.
For more information about each of these steps, see Appendix O, PG. 640.