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Filing a Charge

A discrimination complaint with the EEOC should be filed with the nearest EEOC office to the complainant. The EEOC lists its offices on its website at http://www.eeoc.gov/teledir.html. Complaints may be filed by mail, telephone, or in person. A toll free number, 800-699-4000, may be used to find this information.

Federal civil rights laws contain time frames when discrimination complaints must be filed. To preserve the ability of the EEOC to act, these time frames must be met. If they are not met, the complainant will lose any right to a federal civil rights claim. Under Title VII, the ADA, or ADEA, a complaint must be filed with the EEOC within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act.

In states or localities where there is an antidiscrimination law and an agency authorized to grant or seek relief, a complaint must be presented to that state or local agency. In such jurisdictions, the complainants may file charges with EEOC within 300 days of the discriminatory act, or 30 days after receiving notice that the state or local agency has terminated its processing of the charge, whichever is earlier.

For a complaint under the Equal Pay Act, individuals are not required to file a complaint with the EEOC before filing a private lawsuit, so the time limits do not apply. Individuals with an Equal Pay Act claim must decide whether they would be better off filing a complaint with the EEOC or going directly to court.

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