Age discrimination claims with the EEOC are up 38%, according to new statistical report compiled by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Last year, 22,857 people filed age-related complaints with the EEOC, compared with 16,548 in 2006.
For employers, the data begs the question: What happens after an age discrimination claim is filed?
EEOC Charge Process
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint process varies on a case-by-case basis, but in general, each age discrimination claim entails the following steps:
- Claim is filed. An employee claiming to be a victim of age discrimination must file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC before she can file an employment discrimination lawsuit against her employer. There are time limits for filing a charge.
- Business is notified. Within 10 days of the charge being filed, the EEOC will also send a notice and a copy of the charge to the employer.
- Mediation. Shortly after a charge is filed, the EEOC may contact both the employee and employer to ask if they are interested in attempting to resolve the matter through mediation. Mediation is cheaper (the session itself is free) and faster (by three months) than an investigation. If either party turns down mediation or if an agreement can't be reached from mediation, the charge will be investigated like any other charge.
- Possible Remedies. If discrimination is found, the employer must stop the discriminatory practice, prevent such acts in the future, and put the employee back in the situation as if the discrimination had never occurred (such as providing reinstatement or back pay). If intentional age discrimination is found -- of a malicious or reckless nature -- the employer may be liable for liquidated damages, but not compensatory or punitive damages.
- Lawsuit. An employee may file an age discrimination lawsuit anytime after 60 days have passed from the day she filed her EEOC charge (but no later than 90 days after she receives notice that the EEOC investigation is over).
Need More Help?
Keep in mind that if an employer refuses to cooperate with an EEOC investigation, the agency can issue an administrative subpoena to obtain documents, testimony, or gain access to facilities.
For more help, you may want to consult an experienced employment law attorney.