Generally these are the steps an EEOC complaint will follow:
1. The written complaint will be reviewed to see if it is within the correct geographic area, was filed within the time limits that the EEOC has set up, and is a complaint about a violation of a discrimination law that the EEOC enforces. If the complaint does not meet these requirements, it will probably be immediately rejected by the EEOC.
2. If the complaint is accepted, it will be assigned a case number.
At any time in this process, once this number is assigned, the employee can ask to have the case dismissed with a right to sue letter, and then the employee and his or her attorney can file the complaint in a federal district court for trial.
3. Some EEOC district offices offer access to the mediation program at this point. If either party has requested mediation, this is the point at which arrangements for the mediation will be made. Mediation only proceeds if both parties agree to it. If mediation is successful, the parties settle the case and the complaint is withdrawn.
4. If mediation is not used or is unsuccessful, an EEOC investigator is assigned to the complaint. Depending on that investigator’s workload the complaint may be worked on immediately or handled in the order it was received.
5. The investigator will contact both parties and any witnesses provided by the parties. The investigator may request documents or meet face-to-face with the parties. In some instances, the investigator may do a walkthrough of the employer’s facility.
6. The investigator will work with both parties to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. If a settlement is agreed to, the investigator will file the proper paperwork to dismiss the complaint and will assist the parties should problems arise with the settlement.
7. If no settlement is reached, once the investigator has completed the investigation, he or she will write up a decision. In very rare cases, the EEOC will take on the case and proceed to court. Otherwise, the employee will get a decision from the EEOC. Most decisions include a right to sue letter, which gives the employee ninety days to file his or her complaint in the federal district court for a formal trial.