Age Employment Discrimination:

EEOC's Investigation of Charges Under 1967 Law

HRD-92-82: Published: Sep 4, 1992. Publicly Released: Sep 14, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed questions about investigations of employment discrimination charges under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), focusing on the lapse of charging parties' rights to file suits in federal court before completion of ADEA investigations.

GAO found that: (1) charging parties who believe they have experienced age employment discrimination may sue in federal court 60 days after filing an ADEA discrimination charge, even if the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or a fair employment practice agency is still investigating their charges; (2) during the 1980s, the rights of thousands of charging parties to file federal suits lapsed under the 2-year limitation period, and investigations of those charges were incomplete even after 2 years; (3) the lapse problem was the subject of congressional hearings in fiscal years (FY) 1987 and 1988, and in FY 1988 and 1990, legislation restored the lapsed suit rights of many charging parties; (4) an average of 133 ADEA charges lapsed each month from April 1988 to September 1988, but the number of lapsed ADEA charges had significantly decreased by 1991; and (5) the Civil Rights Act of 1991 amended ADEA to delete the 2-year limitation, and ADEA now provides that charging parties' rights to file private lawsuits will expire 90 days after receiving notice that EEOC has completed action on the charge.