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How Long Does an EEOC Investigation Take?

How Long Does an EEOC Investigation Take?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is critical in addressing workplace discrimination and enforcing federal employment discrimination laws. 

For individuals who have filed a complaint, understanding the EEOC investigation process and the time it takes can help them manage expectations and navigate the process effectively. 

In this article, we will explore the factors that influence the duration of an EEOC investigation and provide insights to help individuals better understand the investigation timeline. 

By knowing what to expect, complainants can make informed decisions and advocate for their rights throughout the investigation journey.

Definition and Purpose of the EEOC

The EEOC, or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

  • It is a federal agency responsible for enforcing employment discrimination laws.
  • Has the primary mission of promoting equal opportunity and fairness in the workplace.
  • Ensures that individuals are not subjected to discrimination based on their protected characteristics.

The EEOC investigates complaints filed by individuals who believe they have been victims of workplace discrimination, such as discrimination based on:

  • Race.
  • Color.
  • Religion.
  • Sex.
  • National origin.
  • Age.
  • Disability.
  • Genetic information.

By enforcing federal laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the EEOC aims to eliminate discriminatory practices and ensure equal treatment for all employees. 

Through its investigations, the EEOC seeks to hold employers accountable for discriminatory actions and provide remedies to victims of discrimination, which can include monetary damages and injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination.

Source: Pexels

Understanding the EEOC Investigation Process

To initiate an EEOC investigation, individuals must file a complaint with the EEOC within the specified time frame.  In 2020, approximately 14,000 Federal sector complaints of discrimination were filed with the EEOC.

Once a complaint is filed, the EEOC systematically investigates the allegations and determines if any employment discrimination laws violations have occurred. The investigation process typically involves the following steps:

Initial Review and Assessment

The EEOC initially evaluates the complaint to determine jurisdiction and legal merit. This step involves reviewing the information provided in the complaint and assessing whether it falls within the EEOC’s authority. The EEOC has a success rate of 95.8% in district court resolutions.

Gathering Evidence and Information

The EEOC collects information from both the complainant and the respondent (the employer) to gather relevant facts and evidence.

This may involve interviews, obtaining documents, and analyzing records to support or refute the allegations. 

Mediation and Settlement Opportunities

As part of its effort to resolve disputes, the EEOC offers mediation services to facilitate voluntary settlement between the parties.

Mediation provides an opportunity for open dialogue and negotiation to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution.

Investigative Process and Timelines

EEOC investigations can vary in length depending on factors such as case complexity and the volume of cases in the EEOC’s workload.

The EEOC strives to complete investigations within a reasonable time frame, but the duration can range from several months to a few years.

Source: Pexels

Legal Remedies and Determinations

After completing the investigation, the EEOC determines reasonable cause to believe discrimination has occurred.

If reasonable cause is found, the EEOC may attempt to conciliate the case or may issue a right-to-sue letter, allowing the complainant to pursue legal action.

Challenges and Delays in EEOC Investigations

While the EEOC strives to complete investigations promptly, various factors can contribute to delays in the process. High caseloads, complex cases, and limited resources can all impact the timeline of an investigation. 

The EEOC is aware of these challenges and has taken steps to address them. It has implemented initiatives to streamline processes, increase efficiency, and allocate resources effectively. However, it’s important to understand that some delays may be beyond the control of the EEOC.

Communicating with the EEOC and Maintaining Expectations

Maintaining open and responsive communication with the EEOC is crucial throughout the investigation. Complainants should promptly provide any requested information, respond to inquiries, and seek updates on the status of their case.  On average, the EEOC takes approximately ten months to investigate a charge.

It’s important to remember that EEOC investigations require patience and cooperation. While it is natural to want a timely resolution, it is equally important to allow the EEOC sufficient time to thoroughly investigate the allegations and make informed determinations.

Source: Pexels


EEOC investigations are essential for addressing workplace discrimination and ensuring equal opportunity for all individuals. While the duration of an investigation can vary, it is important to remain engaged, patient, and persistent throughout the process.

Individuals can navigate the investigation process effectively by understanding the steps involved, maintaining open communication with the EEOC, and seeking legal advice when necessary. 

Ultimately, the goal is to create workplaces that are free from discrimination and promote a culture of fairness and equality for all.


How Long Does An Eeoc Investigation Typically Take?

The duration of an EEOC investigation varies based on factors like case complexity and evidence availability. It can range from a few months to over a year.

Can I Withdraw My Complaint During The Eeoc Investigation Process?

You can withdraw your complaint at any time by informing the EEOC in writing. However, withdrawal doesn’t prevent the EEOC from proceeding if they find reasonable cause to continue.

What Happens If The Eeoc Determines There Is Reasonable Cause To Believe Discrimination Occurred?

The EEOC will attempt conciliation, seeking a resolution. If unsuccessful, they may file a lawsuit or issue a “right-to-sue” letter for the complainant to file a lawsuit independently within a specified timeframe.

*Please note that consulting with the EEOC or legal professionals for specific guidance tailored to your situation is advisable.

The above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  You should always contact an experienced lawyer for advice on legal issues pertaining to your circumstances.

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