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Definitions of Terms

Rev 5-2020

Administrative Closure

Charge closed for administrative reasons without a determination based on the merits, which include: lack of jurisdiction due to untimeliness, insufficient number of employees, or lack of employment relationship; charging party requests withdrawal without receiving benefits; or charging party requests the notice of right to sue.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Settlement

Charge resolved through the private sector mediation program via three-party (Charging Party, Respondent, EEOC) signed agreement with charging party receiving benefits.  EEOC’s mediation program provides a neutral third party that assists opposing parties to reach a voluntary, negotiated resolution of a charge of discrimination.

Merit Resolutions

Charge resolved with an outcome favorable to charging party or charge with meritorious allegations.  These are comprised of negotiated settlements, withdrawals with benefits, successful conciliations, and unsuccessful conciliations.

Monetary Benefits -- Administrative Enforcement

Various types of relief secured through administrative enforcement in the resolution of a charge of discrimination that have a financial valuation.  These include actual cash relief for charging parties or other aggrieved individuals such as restored pay, compensatory damages, punitive and liquidated damages, and other items such as attorney’s fees, fringe benefits, and training or tuition costs.  There is also prospective relief that may be included that is associated with the resolution of the charge including hiring, reinstatement, recall or other actions that result in employment for the charging party or aggrieved individuals, as well as promotions and prospective fringe benefits. 

Negotiated Settlements

Charge settled during investigation with benefits to charging party.

No Reasonable Cause

EEOC’s determination not to proceed further with its investigation. This determination does not certify that the respondent is in compliance with the statutes EEOC enforces. In issuing this determination, the EEOC makes no decision about the merits of claims alleged in the charge or of any other issues that could be construed as having been raised by the charge. The charging party may exercise the right to bring a private court action.

Reasonable Cause

EEOC's determination based upon the evidence obtained in the investigation that it believes discrimination did occur. Reasonable cause determinations are followed by efforts to conciliate the discriminatory issues which gave rise to the initial charge.


New charges filed with EEOC.  Charges may be filed alleging multiple bases and issues.


All charges closed in the administrative process, comprised of charges with no cause findings, administrative closures, and merit resolutions.

Successful Conciliation

Charge with reasonable cause determination closed after resolution of the charge through voluntary efforts, whereby EEOC is a party to the agreement.

Unsuccessful Conciliation

Charge with reasonable cause determination closed after failure to resolve the charge through voluntary efforts.  Because "reasonable cause" has been found, this resolution is considered a merit resolution.

Withdrawal with Benefits

Charge is withdrawn, at the request of charging party, who will receive benefits through a separate agreement with the employer.