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What You Can Expect After a Charge is Filed

When a charge is filed against an employer or other entity (referred to as the Respondent), the EEOC will notify the Respondent within 10 days. The notification will provide a link for the Respondent to log into the EEOC's Respondent Portal to access the charge, submit a position statement responding to the allegations and raising factual or legal defenses, and receive messages about the charge investigation. For more information about how to use the EEOC's Respondent Portal, you should review the Respondent Portal User's Guide for Phase I of EEOC's Digital Charge System and Questions and Answers on Phase I of EEOC's Digital Charge System.

A charge does not constitute a finding that you engaged in discrimination. The EEOC has authority to investigate whether there is reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred.

In many cases, the Respondent may choose to resolve a charge through mediation or settlement. At the start of an investigation, EEOC will advise both the Respondent 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 Respondent 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 Respondent may be asked to:

  • submit a statement of position. This is an opportunity for Respondent to tell its side of the story and raise any factual or legal defenses to the charge. A resource guide on Effective Position Statements is available. The EEOC encourages you to raise in your position statement any factual or legal defenses that you believe are applicable. The EEOC carefully considers any asserted defenses, including those based on religion, status as a Tribal entity or bona fide private membership club, or other defenses at any time during the EEOC’s administrative process.
  • respond to a Request for Information (RFI). The RFI may ask the Respondent 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 Respondent usually 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 employer.

There are many charges where it is unclear whether discrimination may have occurred and an investigation is necessary. Respondents are encouraged to present any facts that they believe show the allegations are incorrect or do not amount to a violation of the law (for example, because the Respondent asserts a defense based on religion, status as a Tribal entity or bona fide private membership club, or other defenses). A Respondent’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 11 months in 2023

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—for example, if you believe that the EEOC should consider a defense you have asserted before investigating the merits of the charge—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 Respondent to respond to the allegations.
  • conduct a timely investigation.
  • consider all defenses raised.
  • inform the Respondent 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 they have 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, the 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.

Log into the EEOC Respondent Portal to:

  • View and download the Charge
  • Upload your position statement and responses to request for information
  • Update your contact info