Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Listed below and on the next page are Federal and state government agencies that are collectively and generically referred to as equal employment opportunity commissions. Other generic names include:
- Offices of civil rights or civil rights offices
- Human rights commissions
- Fair employment practices (FEP) agencies
But, as you'll see, state equivalents typically go by other names or variations of those.
Regardless, Federal and state equal employment opportunity commissions enforce employment discrimination laws, and investigate and resolve employment discrimination charges filed under the laws.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The "main" equal employment opportunity commission is appropriately named the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Its predecessor was established in 1961 as the President's Committee On Equal Employment Opportunity, by way of President John F. Kennedy's Executive Order 10925. JFK's Executive Order also coined the term affirmative action.
The EEOC was established three years later, by the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Congress gave the EEOC litigation enforcement authority in 1972, which has been its focus ever since. It is now the Federal agency responsible for enforcing Federal employment discrimination laws and related regulations.
Subsequently, the nearest EEOC field office is where you'd file a charge of discrimination under a Federal employment discrimination law, by mail or in person. In fact, unless your employer has violated the Equal Pay Act, you must file a charge with the EEOC to preserve your right to file a private employment discrimination lawsuit under a Federal law.
However, your representative, such as a coworker or your attorney, may file on your behalf, if you think it's important to protect your identity. But, regardless of who files a discrimination charge with the EEOC on your behalf, your employer cannot rightfully retaliate against you or the person who filed.
If a state employment discrimination law also comes into play, then the EEOC will likely "dual-file" your charge with the relevant state-equivalent agency. If appropriate, the EEOC does so to protect your state anti-discrimination rights in addition to your Federal rights.
If your employer violates a state employment discrimination law (some have more protections than the Federal equivalents), then you likely may file a charge with the state equal employment opportunity commission equivalent instead of the EEOC.
If a Federal employment discrimination law also comes into play, then the state equal employment opportunity commission equivalent will likely dual-file your charge with the EEOC, to also protect your Federal anti-discrimination rights if appropriate.
Whether you file an employment discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a state equivalent, the agency with which you initially file will likely handle your case. An attorney will help you to decide which agency might better handle your case under the circumstances. State cases are often easier to win and might award more.
If you win your case, you'll likely collect legal-fee reimbursement. Better yet, your attorney might take your case on a contingency basis. It's not unusual in winnable discrimination cases.
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