Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Discrimination has been explicitly prohibited in the United States for over 50 years, since the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, the range of protections afforded and the classes of individuals protected has grown and shifted over that time. The EEOC has remained a constant ally to those who experience workplace discrimination, and it is essential to understand how it can protect you if you have suffered discrimination when seeking a job or while employed.
What Is the EEOC?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the agency responsible for enforcing all laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace, both against potential employees (applicants) and current employees. Founded in 1964, it is comprised of the general counsel and five commissioners.
What Does the EEOC Do?
The EEOC has several goals regarding applicant and employee discrimination:
- Seeking to prevent discrimination in the workplace, often via education and other outreach programs;
- Investigating discrimination charges against employers; and
- Filing lawsuits when discrimination is discovered and the case cannot be settled.
While the EEOC has authority to file lawsuits, it only does so at the discretion of the Commission. Not all cases of discrimination result in a lawsuit against the employer.
Who Is Protected By the EEOC?
The federal discrimination laws are applicable, in most cases, to the following:
- Businesses with at least 15 employees;
- Labor unions; and
- Employment agencies.
Individuals are protected from discrimination based on:
- National Origin;
- Age (40 or older);
- Genetic information; and
- Having filed a claim of discrimination.
If you believe that you have experienced discrimination based on any of these factors or several of them while applying for a job or while employed, it is important to seek knowledgeable legal counsel as soon as possible. In some cases, there are time limits that can affect your ability to file a discrimination claim. We also assist companies and employers who have pending EEOC claims.
At Newland & Newland LLP, our employment lawyers can help you understand your rights and protections under both state and federal discrimination laws. We will help you navigate the claims process with both the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the EEOC. We serve clients throughout Illinois from our offices located in Waukegan, Itasca, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Libertyville, and Arlington Heights. Contact us today.