How can I file a complaint for harassment at work?
If you have been harassed at work, you must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or Equal Employment Division (EED) BEFORE you can file a lawsuit against your employer. There are different procedures depending on what kind of employer you work for.
How to file a complaint if your employer has 15 or more employees
If you work for an employer with 15 or more employees (or 20 or more for an age discrimination claim), you have 180 days from the date of the harassment to file a charge with the EEOC.
Begin the process:
What happens after I file an EEOC charge?
After you file an EEOC charge, the EEOC has 10 days to contact your employer. The employer will get information about the charge.
The EEOC will then investigate your claim. During the investigation, your employer may try to mediate or settle your charge. This is completely up to you. You do not have to accept any settlement offer or agree to mediation.
After the investigation, the EEOC will decide whether there is enough evidence to conclude harassment or discrimination happened.
If they cannot conclude that the harassment happened, you will get a notice called a Dismissal and Notice of Rights. Once you get this, you will have 90 days to file a lawsuit in federal court.
If they conclude there is reasonable cause to believe there was harassment, both you and your employer will get a Letter of Determination. This letter invites you both to try to resolve the claim through an informal mediation process. This is called conciliation.
If you can’t resolve the issue through conciliation, the EEOC will either:
File a lawsuit in federal court on your behalf, or
Send you a Notice of Right to Sue. Once you get this, you will have 90 days to file a lawsuit in federal court.
How to file a complaint if I am a federal employee or job applicant
There is a different process if you are a federal employee or job applicant.
You must first contact an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Counselor for your agency within 45 days of the harassment.
The EEO counselor will give you the choice of EEO counseling or a mediation program.
If you do not settle the claim, you can file a formal complaint against the agency with the agency’s EEO Office. You must file this within 15 days of getting notice from the EEO Counselor about how to file a complaint.
The agency will then investigate. It has 180 days to finish the investigation. You will then get two choices:
How to file a complaint if I am a State of Georgia employee
If you are an employee of the State of Georgia, you must first file a complaint with the Georgia Equal Employment Division (EED). You have 180 days from the harassment to file your complaint.
The EED will then either:
During the investigation, the EED will likely ask you to settle or mediate your complaint. This is completely voluntary. You do not have to agree to any settlement unless you want to.
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What can I do if I work for an employer that has less than 15 employees?
Federal harassment and discrimination laws only cover employers with a certain number of employees. Georgia does not have an anti-harassment or anti-discrimination law that covers employers with fewer employees.
If you are being discriminated against at work and your employer is not covered under these laws, you may or may not have a legal claim. Contact an attorney to discuss your rights.
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