What does an EEOC right to sue letter mean?

When a person suffers through discrimination either while working for a company or when attempting to become hired by the entity, he or she may have the ability to sue the employer. The EEOC is generally the first step in this process. The person will need to contact the agency, and an agent will investigate the matter to determine if discrimination did occur or if no sufficient evidence exists to pursue a claim against the company. If the agent does find evidence, he or she will explain this to the employee or candidate and then, the matter may progress from there.

What is the EEOC?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the agency of the United States that enforces federal employment discrimination laws. The EEOC will investigate into allegations of discrimination. Depending on the severity of the case, the EEOC has the right to file a lawsuit against employers who discriminate.

What is a “Right to Sue” letter?

You cannot file a lawsuit under Title VII against an employer for discrimination unless you first obtain a “right to sue” letter from the EEOC. Prior to engaging in formal legal proceedings, the EEOC performs an investigation to ensure that discrimination claims are valid.

How to Obtain a Right to Sue Letter

After the EEOC is notified of the discrimination, you can receive a “right to sue” letter one of two ways:

When the EEOC investigates and believes there is no reasonable cause for discrimination, then the EEOC will issue a Dismissal and Notice of rights that allows you to file a lawsuit within 90 days of receiving the letter. Although you do not have support from the EEOC, you are able to file a lawsuit.

The EEOC investigates and believes there is a reasonable cause for discrimination. The EEOC will then award you with a letter of determination. The EEOC has the right to file a lawsuit on your behalf, but will rarely exercise this right. Upon receiving this letter, you can file a lawsuit within 90 days.

Requesting a Letter

If you feel the investigation is taking too long, you can request a letter from the EEOC after they have had 180 days to investigate. The EEOC is obligated to provide the letter even if the investigation is not complete, at which time they will close the investigation. You will still only have 90 days from the time of receipt to file the lawsuit.

Once the EEOC closes the investigation into the matter, the victim of the discrimination will receive a Right to Sue letter if the agent discovers an incident of discrimination caused by the employer. It is generally important to use the EEOC as the first point of contact for the lawsuit to determine if a remedy to the incident is possible. However, the victim may request a Notice of Right to Sue from the offices at the EEOC to press the charge of discrimination against the employer in the courts before the agency closes the investigation into the matter. This notice is what the person needs to file the lawsuit in either federal or state courts.

However, if the person decides to wait, he or she will still have the Right to Sue letter when the agent does determine that discrimination occurred. After the EEOC completes all necessary tasks and attempts to settle the matter with the employer, it is then that the victim may progress to the standard federal or state courts when the settlement with the employer is not sufficient to resolve the incident. The letter provides the person with the ability to litigate and hire a lawyer outside of the EEOC for a more reasonable compensation amount.

Do I Need Legal Representation?

If you decide to proceed with a lawsuit, you can receive a copy of the EEOC investigation findings. It is best to find an experienced employment lawyer before the EEOC has completed its investigation.

The Reason for the Right to Sue Letter

When processing the incident with the employer through the EEOC, the agent will investigate the matter fully to determine if discrimination did occur at some point during the employment or in the interview process for hiring. The agent will provide a Right to Sue letter if he or she does see evidence that discrimination occurred and requires a resolution. However, without this letter, the person may not have a valid claim to pursue in the courtroom. He or she may still proceed to the courts, but the letter itself is substantial evidence in favor of the claim.

Some situations do not require the letter such as age discrimination. Similar issues exist in equal pay lawsuits with the employee. When facing discrimination for other non-EEOC protected statuses, the employee may need to use different processes that have little or nothing to do with a Right to Sue letter. He or she may need to hire a lawyer quickly to pursue the matter and understand what to do next.

Pursuing the Matter with the Right to Sue Letter

Through a lawyer helping with the case, the employee that suffered discrimination has a valid and stronger claim to seek compensation or a remedy for the unfairness that occurred. The lawyer will work at gathering or working in conjunction with the EEOC to provide the best possible outcome for the claim.

Right to sue letter sample download 

right to sue letter sample

Legal Letter Stating Intent To Sue

Write this type of letter to notify the letter recipient that you intend to sue them. Include any pertinent details, such as the reason for the legal action.


[Your letterhead, if desired; if not, your return address]

[Date of letter-month, day, and year]

[Recipient’s first and last names]
[Company name]
[Street or P.O. box address]
[City, State ZIP code]

Dear [recipient’s name]:

I am writing to inform you that I intend to pursue legal action in the form of a lawsuit against your company. I have repeatedly attempted to request payments on numerous invoices that I have sent to your company for the services I provided over the past year. However, to date, I have still not received the payments that are owed to me.

This leaves me no other choice than to pursue legal action. Should you decide to pay in full, thus averting any legal activity, please contact me immediately and remit payment to the address listed on this letter.

If you have questions regarding this impending legal action, please call me at 234-1212. Thank you for your immediate attention to this serious matter.



[Sender’s first and last names]

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