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What You Should Know about EEOC Formal Opinion Letters

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has launched a new process for the public to request a formal opinion letter concerning Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) from the Commission. 

A formal opinion letter represents the Commission’s official position on the matter raised and reliance upon it may provide a defense to liability.  A formal opinion letter is approved by a vote of the Commission and is signed by the Commission’s Legal Counsel on behalf of and as approved by the Commission. 

“One of my priorities has been for the Commission to provide clear and accurate guidance to the public,” EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon said.  “The new process for requesting formal opinion letters is a significant step toward allowing the Commission to address areas of the law that may be unclear.”

Members of the public may request a formal opinion letter from the Commission on the application of EEOC-enforced laws to a specific question or factual scenario.  The Commission has discretion whether and how to respond to these requests.  Generally, these letters concern matters where the application of existing regulations or guidance may not be clear. 

“Employment law can be complex.  This new process will allow the public to get answers to their questions and provide certainty around the laws the EEOC enforces,” said EEOC Vice Chair Keith E. Sonderling.

Any interested person may request a formal opinion letter on Title VII or the ADEA from the Commission; however, before requesting a letter, they should consult existing EEOC regulations and policy guidance, which may address their question.  The process is detailed on the EEOC’s website at