How to file a complaint against an employer

Written by barbara aufiero
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How to file a complaint against an employer
You may need help from an outside agency. (la rencounter image by Yves Damin from

Workplace complaints are heard as often as office gossip. However, when you feel your rights as an employee have been violated because someone does not like you, this is considered discrimination and must be addressed. While your company's human resources department may be able to assist you, there are times when you need help from an outside agency.

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  1. 1

    Discuss the matter with co-workers you trust. If you determine that employees of a different race, religion, sex, disability or age were treated differently in similar situations, you may be a victim of discrimination.

  2. 2

    Discuss the matter with your supervisor, or notify your human resources department directly.

  3. 3

    Compose a chronology of events and compile the corresponding supporting documents. The more dated documents and eyewitness accounts you have to confirm what happened, the better.

  4. 4

    Draft a summary of your complaint, including a brief description of the incident and the actions you have taken to resolve the matter.

  5. 5

    File a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency that enforces discrimination laws, by completing an intake questionnaire in-person, through the mail or online, within 180 days of the incident.

  6. 6

    Contact a lawyer after the EEOC advises you of the status of your complaint, usually within 10 days of the filing date. If the EEOC determines that your employer is in violation of a discrimination law and your employer refuses attempts to mediate, the agency will provide you with a right-to-sue letter.

Tips and warnings

  • EEOC investigations take an average of six months.
  • Once a case is created, you will be given with a case number and notified in writing that a charge was filed 10 days before your employer.
  • Your employer is prohibited by law from retaliating against you should you file charges. This includes harassment, demotion or termination.

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