The Role Of The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission In Protecting Your Kansas Employment Rights

Michael M. Shultz

Both the federal government and Kansas have adopted laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace. Technically, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") enforces federal law, while the Kansas Human Rights Commission ("KHRC") enforces Kansas employment discrimination laws. However, under work-sharing agreements between the two bodies, each can be the lead investigative agency for the other.

If you believe you have been the victim of employment discrimination in Kansas, either by your employer, a labor union or an employment agency based upon your race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability, or if you believe that you have been discriminated against because of opposing a prohibited practice or participating in an equal employment opportunity matter, you may file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. All laws enforced by EEOC, (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), except the Equal Pay Act (EPA), require filing a charge with EEOC before a private lawsuit may be filed in court.

To protect your legal rights, it is always best to contact EEOC promptly when discrimination is suspected. There are strict time limits within which charges must be filed. Please review the information for your state, and the specific charge filing instructions for this office. For more information about filing a charge of discrimination, click on

Protecting Your Federal and Kansas Employment Rights: Filing Charges of Discrimination

In most cases where your federal rights have been violated, it is also likely that your Kansas employment rights have been violated. Usually, however, if your employer has 15 or more employees (20 in the case of age discrimination), the federal law provides better remedies if you have to go to court than the Kansas discrimination laws provide. However, if your employer does not have enough employees to bring it within federal law, you will need to apply with the Kansas Human Rights Commission in addition to the EEOC. Under the work-sharing agreement, when you file with either agency, it will send a copy of your charge to the other. But, if you file with the EEOC first, then the KHRC will send you a letter and advise you that you need to file with them separately on their form and by getting your charge of discrimination notarized. It is important that you do so.

The District Office of the EEOC which covers Kansas employees is in St. Louis, but there is also an area office in Kansas City, Kansas. The contact information is below:

EEOC Customer Service
4th & State Ave., 9th Floor
Kansas City, KS 66101
Phone: 913.551.5655
Fax: 913.551.6957

If you also wish to contact the KHRC, their contact information is:

Kansas Human Rights Commission
Landon State Office Building
900 Southwest Jackson, Suite 851-S
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1258
Phone: 785-296-3206
Fax: 785-296-0589

Kansas employees who work in Kansas, whether in Wichita, Garden City, Goodland, Salina, Manhattan, Emporia, Shawnee County, or anywhere else in the state, will need to work through the EEOC in Kansas City, Kansas, office. For the most part, the EEOC can work with you through the mail and by telephone. It is also possible to use the Internet and e-mail to communicate about your Kansas employment discrimination issue.

What Happens after a Charge of Employment Discrimination is Filed with EEOC?
(From the EEOC website)

The employer is notified that the charge has been filed. From this point there are a number of ways a charge may be handled:

!A charge may be assigned for priority investigation if the initial facts appear to support a violation of law. When the evidence is less strong, the charge may be assigned for follow up investigation to determine whether it is likely that a violation has occurred.

!EEOC can seek to settle a charge at any stage of the investigation if the charging party and the employer express an interest in doing so. If settlement efforts are not successful, the investigation continues.

!In investigating a charge, EEOC may make written requests for information, interview people, review documents, and, as needed, visit the facility where the alleged discrimination occurred. When the investigation is complete, EEOC will discuss the evidence with the charging party or employer, as appropriate.

!The charge may be selected for EEOC's mediation program if both the charging party and the employer express an interest in this option. Mediation is offered as an alternative to a lengthy investigation. Participation in the mediation program is confidential, voluntary, and requires consent from both charging party and employer. If mediation is unsuccessful, the charge is returned for investigation.

!A charge may be dismissed at any point if, in the agency's best judgment, further investigation will not establish a violation of the law. A charge may be dismissed at the time it is filed, if an initial in-depth interview does not produce evidence to support the claim. When a charge is dismissed, a notice is issued in accordance with the law which gives the charging party 90 days in which to file a lawsuit on his or her own behalf.

How Does EEOC Resolve Discrimination Charges?
(From the EEOC website)

!If the evidence obtained in an investigation does not establish that discrimination occurred, this will be explained to the charging party. A required notice is then issued, closing the case and giving the charging party 90 days in which to file a lawsuit on his or her own behalf.

!If the evidence establishes that discrimination has occurred, the employer and the charging party will be informed of this in a letter of determination that explains the finding. EEOC will then attempt conciliation with the employer to develop a remedy for the discrimination.

!If the case is successfully conciliated, or if a case has earlier been successfully mediated or settled, neither EEOC nor the charging party may go to court unless the conciliation, mediation, or settlement agreement is not honored.

!If EEOC is unable to successfully conciliate the case, the agency will decide whether to bring suit in federal court. If EEOC decides not to sue, it will issue a notice closing the case and giving the charging party 90 days in which to file a lawsuit on his or her own behalf. In Title VII and ADA cases against state or local governments, the Department of Justice takes these actions.

Kansas employees should understand that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission only finds cause to believe that discrimination occurred in about 5 percent of all cases that are filed with this agency. This does not mean that discrimination did not occur in all of the other cases, only that the agency did not find sufficient evidence of discrimination to want to move forward. This finding does not mean that you do not have a good case for a possible lawsuit, and you should always contact a competent Kansas employment rights attorney if your charge is dismissed to determine whether there is enough merit to go to court.

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