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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) - Overview


U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission logoThe U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) coordinates all Federal equal employment opportunity regulations, practices, and policies.

This topic provides an overview of the EEOC. You may read through the topic in sequence or jump to a specific section by following the links below:


             Statutory Authority

             EEOC Enforcement Activities

o    Overview

o    Charge Handling System

o    National Enforcement Plan

o    National Mediation Program

o    Small Business Initiative

o    Comprehensive Enforcement Plan

o    Litigation

o    Federal Sector Program

o    Outreach Activities

             Contact Information

             Additional Information


The mission of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is to eradicate employment discrimination at the workplace.

Statutory Authority

The EEOC was established by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and began operating on July 2, 1965. The EEOC enforces the following federal statutes:

             Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;

             the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967, as amended, prohibiting employment discrimination against individuals 40 years of age and older;

             the Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender in compensation for substantially similar work under similar conditions;

             Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of disability in the private sector and state and local government;

             Section 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, prohibiting employment discrimination against federal employees with disabilities; and,

             the Civil Rights Act of 1991, providing monetary damages in cases of intentional discrimination and clarifying provisions regarding disparate impact actions.

EEOC Enforcement Activities


With its headquarters in Washington, D.C., and through the operations of 51 field offices nationwide, the EEOC coordinates all federal equal employment opportunity regulations, practices, and policies. The Commission interprets employment discrimination laws, monitors the federal sector employment discrimination program, provides funding and support to state and local Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs), and sponsors outreach and technical assistance programs.

Any individual who believes he or she has been discriminated against in employment may file an administrative charge with the EEOC. After investigating the charge, the EEOC determines if there is reasonable cause to believe discrimination has occurred. If reasonable cause is found, the EEOC attempts to conciliate the charge by reaching a voluntary resolution between the charging party and the respondent. If conciliation is not successful, the Commission may bring suit in federal court. As part of the administrative process, the EEOC may also issue a Right-to-Sue-Notice to the charging party, allowing the charging party to file an individual action in court without the Agency's involvement.

See When Can an Individual File an Employment Discrimination Lawsuit in Court? in the Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination topic for detailed information in a question and answer format about the Right-to-Sue Notice and timing of court actions.

Charge Handling System

Under the Commission's charge processing system, all charges are classified in one of three basic categories for purposes of investigation and resource allocation: Category A charges are given priority investigative and settlement efforts due to the early recognition that discrimination has likely occurred; Category B charges require further investigation to determine if a violation has occurred; and Category C charges include non- jurisdictional and unsupported charges that are closed immediately. Settlements are encouraged at all stages of the process.

See the EEOC'S Charge Processing Procedures section of the Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination topic for detailed information in a question and answer format about how a discrimination charge is made, investigated, and resolved.

National Enforcement Plan

The National Enforcement Plan (NEP) was implemented to improve the Agency's administrative and litigation enforcement procedures. The NEP established priorities for processing and litigating private sector discrimination charges; outlined strategies for developing Local Enforcement Plans (LEPs) in EEOC field offices; and delegated autonomous authority to the General Counsel to intercede, without prior approval from the Commission, in matters involving routine litigation.

National Mediation Program

EEOC's mediation-based alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program encourages all parties, with the assistance of a neutral mediator, to voluntarily participate in confidential deliberations that resolve discrimination issues in appropriate cases. A recent comprehensive report on those who participated in the mediation program concluded that the overwhelming majority of employers (96%) and charging parties (91%) said they would use the program again if party to an EEOC charge. Moreover, the report also showed that both employers and charging parties expressed strong satisfaction with the EEOC mediation process, finding it to be a highly effective dispute resolution mechanism.

Small Business Initiative

EEOC's Small Business Initiative focuses on small and mid-sized businesses which may lack the resources to implement effective anti-discrimination measures. To improve its relationship with small and mid-sized employers, the EEOC expanded its voluntary mediation program nationwide, designated a small business liaison in every district office, published public information material in "plain language," updated the small business information section on its Web site, and developed regional small business outreach plans in EEOC field offices. Through the initiative, the Commission provides customer service and expanded outreach, education, and technical assistance to the employer community.

Comprehensive Enforcement Plan

The Comprehensive Enforcement Program (CEP) improves all aspects of EEOC's private and federal sector operations. Under the CEP, enforcement and legal resources are linked to provide efficient and effective service to the public. In the private sector, the CEP emphasizes collaboration among EEOC outreach, investigatory, and legal staff in improving customer service; increasing outreach, education, and technical assistance to employers; quickly resolving charges more effectively; and enforcing the law when employers fail to voluntarily take corrective action. The federal sector CEP links all of EEOC's responsibilities outreach, complaint adjudication, on-site reviews, training, technical assistance, and data analysis to streamline the federal process in addressing equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaints.


Through its litigation program, overseen by the Office of General Counsel, EEOC files lawsuits in a wide variety of professional fields addressing egregious discrimination on behalf of individuals in various occupations. In addition, the Commission files amicus curiae or "friend of the court" briefs in appellate and trial courts in support of Commission positions, usually in cases involving issues important to the development of the laws EEOC enforces.

State and Local Programs

The EEOC works with the Fair Employment Practice Agencies (FEPAs) and the Tribal Employment Rights Offices (TEROs) to manage charges of discrimination and the protection of the employment rights of Native Americans. The EEOC contracts with approximately 90 state and local Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs) to process discrimination charges. Through the use of contractual work-sharing agreements, EEOC and the FEPAs automatically dual-file charges of discrimination under both federal and, where they exist, state and/or local laws. This arrangement avoids duplication of effort while ensuring that a charging party's rights are protected under all applicable laws.

See What Agency Handles a Charge that is also Covered by State or Local Law? in the Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination topic for additional information.

Federal Sector Program

In addition to private sector enforcement, EEOC enforces anti-discrimination laws in the federal sector. EEOC conducts thousands of hearings each year for federal employees who have filed discrimination complaints. When a federal agency issues a final decision on a discrimination complaint, the complainant can appeal the decision to the EEOC if he/she is not satisfied with the outcome. The Commission also ensures that federal agencies maintain EEO programs required under Title VII and the Rehabilitation Act. Moreover, under Executive Order 12067, the Commission coordinates all federal programs and administers EEO statutes, executive orders, regulations, and policies that have EEO implications.

See the Additional Information section in this topic below for internet links to the EEOC Federal Sector Information website and text of Executive Order 12067.

Outreach Activities

EEOC's outreach, education, and technical assistance efforts are vital components of the agency's mission to eradicate employment discrimination. The goal of the agency's outreach program is twofold: first, to encourage and facilitate voluntary compliance with the anti-discrimination laws among employers and employer groups in the private and federal sectors; and second, to increase knowledge about individual rights under the anti-discrimination laws among the public and employee groups.

See the Information And Assistance Available From EEOC section of the Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination topic for additional information about training, technical assistance, and publications available from the EEOC.

Contact Information

You may contact EEOC Headquarters at:

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
1801 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20507

Phone: (202) 663-4900
TTY: (202) 663-4494


You can be automatically connected to your nearest Field Office by calling:

Phone: 1-800-669-4000
TTY: 1-800-669-6820

Or you may contact any of the 51 field offices directly. These field offices can provide contact information for their associated Fair Employment Practice Agencies (FEPAs) and Tribal Employment Rights Offices (TEROs). A field office list and jurisdiction map with links to complete contact information is available online at:

Additional Information

The EEOC maintains a comprehensive Federal Sector Information website at:

The text of Executive Order 12067, Providing For Coordination Of Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Programs, is available online from the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) website at:

See also:

Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination

Job Applicants and the ADA

Disability Rights Laws - Overview

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)


Information for this topic was drawn from pages of the EEOC website at:

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