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EEOC Informal Discussion Letter

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

EEOC Office of Legal Counsel staff members wrote the following informal discussion letter in response to an inquiry from a member of the public. This letter is intended to provide an informal discussion of the noted issue and does not constitute an official opinion of the Commission.

EEOC In General


This is in response to your letter of November 12, 1999. The nature of your problem is unclear from the documents you provided us. Nevertheless, this letter is designed to give you more information on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the laws the agency enforces, and issues that may be relevant to your problem.

The EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, and national origin; the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), 29 U.S.C. § 206(d), which prohibits employers from paying unequal wages to employees of the opposite sex within the same establishment and performing substantially equal work; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., which protects employees age 40 or over from discrimination because of age; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., which bars employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of their disabilities; and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 791 et seq., which prohibits discrimination in federal employment on basis of disability.

We gather from the documents you have provided that you believe a United States District Court has discriminated against you on one of the above bases. It is unclear, however, whether the alleged discrimination occurred in an employment context. The EEOC potentially has jurisdiction over your problem only if it occurred in the employment context, i.e., if you believe the court discriminatorily failed to hire you, terminated your employment, or otherwise discriminated against you in employment. Even if the alleged discrimination did occur in the context of your employment, Title VII and the various anti-discrimination statutes still may not cover you. Employees of the judicial branch of government are not covered unless employed in competitive service positions. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(a).

Issues of coverage aside, you should know that the anti-discrimination statutes impose important time limits for filing a charge with the EEOC. For example, under Title VII (covering charges of race, color, sex, religion, and national origin discrimination), charging parties must file a charge with the EEOC within 180 days of the alleged violation, or within 300 days if the violation occurred in a U.S. state with a fair employment practices agency (i.e., a state agency equivalent to the EEOC). See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(c), (e)(1); 29 C.F.R.§ 1601.13(a).

We have enclosed an EEOC pamphlet that explains in more detail the laws enforced by the EEOC. We encourage you to call 1-800-669-4000 to locate the EEOC field office nearest you so that you may speak to an EEOC investigator about the possibility of filing a charge of discrimination. Please keep in mind that this letter does not constitute legal advice or an official opinion of the EEOC.


Dianna Johnston

Assistant Legal Counsel


This page was last modified on April 27, 2007.