Employees making Title VII discrimination claims must file their complaints with the EEOC before filing a federal lawsuit … most of the time, but not always.
Recent case: When the EEOC filed a lawsuit against an Albertsons distribution center in Aurora, the agency charged that the grocery company had a pattern and practice of retaliating against black and Hispanic employees who had complained about discrimination. Originally, several employees filed EEOC complaints. Other employees then asked the court if they could also sue, even though they had never filed their own EEOC complaints.
Albertsons argued it couldn’t be sued by anyone who hadn’t first filed an EEOC complaint. The court said the other employees could file their own lawsuits as long as their claims were the same as the one the EEOC was litigating. (EEOC v. Albertsons, No. 08-CV-00640, DC CO, 2008)