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FAQ: How to Lodge a Complaint?

Published onMay 04, 2023
FAQ: How to Lodge a Complaint?

Summary of dilemma

Seeking, keeping, and succeeding in a job all carry the possibility of being discriminated against in various ways. An employer may refuse to hire, promote or pay you equally, they may refuse to make reasonable accommodations, demand that you disclose your disability, or make derogatory comments or jokes related to your disability. It is important to remember that you have recourse to file a complaint and that the law is on your side. 

Federal law protects people with disabilities from discrimination in employment. You do not have to inform an employer of your disability when you apply for a job or when you are hired - even if later you need a reasonable accommodation. If you can do the job, it is unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire or promote you, to fire or demote you, to harass you, or to pay you less because of your disability. You are also protected from unnecessary medical inquiries at work. You have the right to ask for and receive reasonable accommodations that allow you to have an equal chance to succeed, however, private employers with fewer than 15 employees are not covered by federal disability nondiscrimination laws.

Depending on the nature of the complaint, here are some ways to address it.

Summary of possible next steps/options

What to do if you believe your rights have been violated:

  • File a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your state’s fair employment practices agency.

  • Depending on your state, your deadline to file with the EEOC or your state agency may be as short as 180 days.

  • If you are a federal employee, contact your Equal Employment Opportunity counselor within 45 days.

  • Contact a lawyer.

  • File an internal complaint: Some employers have internal complaint processes. Union members can file complaints through their unions.

  • File an external complaint: You can bring a complaint for failure to provide a reasonable accommodation. If you would like to pursue an employment discrimination case, the first step is to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or state Department of Human Rights.

  • Know your rights. All employees have rights. If you feel you are the target of discrimination, know which rights will protect you.

  • Take it up with HR. Contact your employer’s Human Resources department to notify them of the discrimination you’re experiencing.

  • File a discrimination complaint. If your employer fails to adequately resolve the issue, file a formal complaint with the EEOC or the agency that handles discrimination complaints in your state or country.

Disability protections vary across the globe, but most countries have laws in place to provide protection for individuals with disabilities.

Use case: 

Maria Floria was recently hired by a university publisher but continued to face accommodation barriers despite receiving an agreement from her supervisor. She reached out to HR in order to work through her disability needs but was told that she had to work it out between herself and her supervisor. After repeatedly being denied her requests and fearing that she would not be able to continue working without an accommodation, she decided to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

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