2024 How to File an EEOC Complaint in California?

Frank S. Clowney III

If you believe that you have experienced workplace discrimination, you can choose to file a charge with the federal committee EEOC (the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) before you take legal action against your employer. Keep reading to learn more about how to file an EEOC complaint in California.

How Do I Know Whether it is Too Late to File a Discrimination Claim?

An EEOC complaint, also called a Charge of Discrimination, must be filed before the statute of limitations has passed. Generally, non-federal employees have 180 calendar days from the date of the discriminatory event or the most recent occurrence during cases of ongoing harassment to submit a charge. A third party, such as a coworker or an agency/organization, can also file on behalf of the discriminated person if the affected person wishes to protect their identity.

This deadline may be extended to 300 calendar days if a state/local agency enforces a similar mandate prohibiting employment discrimination for the same reason as found in the EEOC’s enforceable laws. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act meets this requirement.

If you also plan to take legal action against your employer for discrimination, you are required to file an official complaint with the EEOC before you can proceed with filing the lawsuit. An exception to this is if your grievance is specifically regarding the Equal Pay Act, in which case you can go directly to court to file a discrimination claim against your employer. The statute of limitations is two years (three years if there was willful discrimination) from receiving the last discriminatory paycheck.

How to File an EEOC Complaint in California

The charge of discrimination is a statement signed by you or a third party on your behalf that asserts a company or organization exhibited conduct involving employment discrimination. The complaint also requests that the EEOC take action to remedy the mistreatment. Here are the different ways you can file a discrimination complaint:

  • Online through the EEOC public portal: To file a charge through the commission’s online system, you must first submit an inquiry, followed by a scheduled interview, both of which can be completed through the portal.
  • In-person: You can submit your complaint during an in-person interview at an EEOC office. There are walk-in appointments, or you may choose to schedule one online through the public portal.
  • Telephone: The EEOC does not process charges over the phone, but calling them at 1-800-669-4000 can be the first step in your filing efforts. A representative can tell you where the closest EEOC office is, ensure whether your situation is covered by the agency’s enforceable laws, and explain how to file a charge.
  • By mail: In addition to the mandatory information required for any filing method, be sure you include why you believe you were discriminated against (which protected characteristic) and sign your letter. The discrimination cannot be investigated if your submitted letter lacks a signature.

Alternative Methods of Filing a Discrimination Claim in CA

There are some circumstances where the EEOC is not the organization you must go through in order to file an official complaint of workplace discrimination. The following are other ways you may choose to or need to file a charge:

  • State or local agency: Many locations have an agency that enforces regulations concerning the prohibition of employment discrimination, called Fair Employment Practice Agencies (FEPAs) by the EEOC. Some FEPAs have a work-sharing agreement with the EECO that allows an automatic filing with the other organization, regardless of where you choose to file first.
  • Federal sector EEO complaint process: If you are a federal employee or applying to be one, you have a different method required to file a discrimination charge. It begins by contacting an EEO counselor at the government agency the complaint concerns; you generally have 45 days from the date of the discrimination in order to contact them.


Q: How Long Do You Have to File an EEOC Complaint in California?

A: Generally, you have 180 days to file an EEOC complaint in California. The statute of limitations extends to 300 days when a state or local agency also enforces laws regarding the same discrimination type for which you want to file.

Q: How Do You File a Discrimination Complaint Against an Employer in California?

A: To file a discrimination complaint against your employer in CA, you can either file the charge through the EEOC or a state/local agency that enforces fair employment practices regulations. After this, you may choose to file a legal claim against your employer in court.

For federal employees, the process must begin by contacting an EEO counselor within the government agency against which the discrimination claim is made in order to file a discrimination complaint.

Q: What Are the Reasons to File a Complaint with the EEOC?

A: The reasons to file a complaint of discrimination with the EEOC include being denied hire or promotion, receiving punishment or retaliatory action in the workplace, and getting wrongfully terminated– as long as any of these mistreatments were motivated by a legally protected characteristic under the EEOC (e.g. gender, race, age).

Q: How Serious Is an EEOC Complaint?

A: An EEOC complaint is serious since it involves a federal investigation. The complaint will either receive a “Dismissal and Notice of Rights” or a “Letter of Determination.”

If discrimination is found, the EEOC tries to find a solution between the two parties. If they do, you waive the right to sue; if not, they will decide whether to take your case to court.

If they don’t or they initially dismissed your complaint, you have 90 days to take legal action against your employer.

Consult with an Employment Law Attorney to Help You in Filing a Complaint

At The Law Office of Frank S. Clowney III, our legal team of professionals is dedicated to protecting your rights. Our skilled team stands ready to help you in your employment discrimination case.

Schedule a consultation with us to receive qualified legal advice. We can help you determine if your situation necessitates an EEOC complaint and help you file one if you choose to proceed.