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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.

ADEA: Hiring/Federal Sector Complaint Process

May 28, 2013

Dear    :

Your letter to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien concerning age discrimination in federal hiring was forwarded to this office for a response. The EEOC enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which prohibits employers, including federal agencies, from discriminating in hiring and other actions against workers age 40 and above, based on their older age. In your letter, you assert that age discrimination is the reason you were not hired by the federal government for any of the 58 jobs in different agencies listed in the appendix to your letter. You question whether the EEOC provides meaningful enforcement of the ADEA.

The way to challenge alleged employment discrimination is to file a complaint about the allegedly discriminatory employment action. If you are interested in filing complaints of age discrimination about any of the federal jobs you did not get, you should be aware that the process for filing claims in the federal sector is different from the private sector. To pursue a complaint against a federal government agency, you first must contact the EEO Office of the federal agency where you applied to work, not the EEOC, and begin EEO Counseling at the agency within 45 days of the alleged discrimination. The federal agency where you applied to work, not the EEOC, makes the initial determination of whether you have been subject to discrimination, unless you are given an opportunity to request a hearing from an EEOC Administrative Judge. The EEOC cannot sue a federal agency for age discrimination on behalf of federal employees, applicants, or former employees. More information on the federal EEO complaint process is available at Statistical information about claims of discrimination in the federal government is available at

The EEOC also requires federal agencies to annually review their employment practices for barriers to employment by protected groups – including older workers -- and to take steps to eliminate those barriers. These requirements are established by EEOC's Management Directive 715. See

We hope this information is helpful to you. Please note that this letter does not constitute an opinion or interpretation of the agency within the meaning of section 10 of the Portal-to-Portal Act as incorporated by the ADEA. It also does not constitute agreement with any of the statements that you attempted to attribute to the EEOC in your correspondence.


Carol R. Miaskoff
Assistant Legal Counsel

This page was last modified on July 23, 2013.