../plan.css"> The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Overview of Private Sector Enforcement Process

Charges are filed with the Commission in several ways. Each field District Office conducts an Analysis of Needs and Issues to understand the demographics within its jurisdiction and identify priorities to focus on to enforce the civil rights laws in a strategic and effective manner. This analysis helps offices engage in extensive Outreach with Advocacy and Community Groups, which can result in charges being filed. In addition, applicants or employees who believe that they have been discriminated against by a covered employer can file either a Walk-In or Mail-In Charge. Finally, Commissioners can file Charges, and District Directors can file Directed Charges under the Age Discrimination and Employment Act and the Equal Pay Act.

All potential charges go through an Intake and Categorization process as a first step. Once a charge is filed, it is initially categorized as an "A/A1 Case," a "B Case" or a "C" Case. "A" cases are those that appear to have merit. "A1" cases are those the Commission is likely to litigate, if an investigation determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred and conciliation efforts fail. "B" cases are those that require additional investigation to determine whether the case is meritorious or not. "C" cases are non-meritorious cases that are immediately Dismissed.

"A/A1" charges are referred to an investigative unit immediately after intake, where an investigator will Review the Categorization made in intake and request that the Employer Respond to the charge. All "B" cases are referred to Mediation prior to the investigation, if the parties agree to participate. If the charge is Resolved in mediation, it is dismissed when a settlement agreement is signed. If the charge is Not Resolved, it is referred to an investigative unit to Review the Categorization and request an Employer Response to the charge. A charge can be re-categorized throughout an investigation as an "A" Case, "B" Case or a Strategic Litigation Program ("A1") Case.

Once the investigation has begun, a settlement attempt could be made and a Pre-Determination Settlement reach, resolving the charge. If the investigation determines that there is no reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred, the charge is Dismissed. If the investigation determines there is reasonable Cause to believe discrimination occurred, the Commission attempts to Conciliate the charge. If conciliation is Successful, a conciliation agreement is signed. If conciliation Fails, the Commission provide the charging party with an Attorney Referral and will Issue a Right to Sue notice, or the Commission can sue the employer by filing a Complaint in federal court based on the charge. After suit is filed, the parties will engage in Discovery and, if the suit is not Settled, the case will go to Trial. A judge or jury will issue a Decision at the conclusion of the trial.

Trial Decisions are used as part of the Commission's Outreach and Technical Assistance to Advocacy Groups, Community Groups and Employers and feed back into those activities that can lead to the filing of charges of employment discrimination.

This page was last modified on May 3, 2001.

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