The Chicago Employment Law Blog

How to File an Employment Discrimination Claim

You work in a Chicago high-rise and believe that your boss or colleagues are discriminating against you. Can you simply march downstairs to the nearest employment law office and file a lawsuit? The answer is no. Instead, to file a proper claim, you need to follow the steps to file an employment discrimination charge.

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles all discrimination charges and you generally must first file your complaint with the agency before bringing a private action.

Here's a look at the steps for filing a charge with the EEOC:

  • Where to File: You have to file your charge either in person or through the mail. You cannot file complaints over the telephone or online.

  • When Should You File: There are strict time limits for filing a discrimination complaint. If you miss these timeframes, you may miss your opportunity to recover for damages. In general, you have 180 days from the date of the incident to file your claim. However, if a state or local agency enforces the same discrimination laws, the time limit may be extended to 300 days.

  • What You Need to Prepare: You will have to describe the alleged discriminatory event as fully as possible. This can include specifics as to what happened, the circumstances, and why you believe you were subject to discrimination. You should include supporting documents and witness information if available.

  • Wait for the EEOC's Decision: The EEOC will review your complaint. If the agency believes there is a violation, the agency may seek to mediate the case on your behalf, or even sue the employer on your behalf. However, if the agency does not agree with you, it will issue you a Notice of Right to Sue. This means that the EEOC will not be representing you, and you will have to hire a private attorney to fight your case.

If you are issued a Notice of Right to Sue, you should contact an experienced Chicago employment attorney if you wish to continue your claim. However, you should be aware that your claim is already deemed "weak" as the EEOC decided to pass on your claim.

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