If you have been the victim of age bias either in your employment or while looking for a job, what should you do?  If you are over 40 years of age, your best option is to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  You need to act quickly, however, as you usually only have 180 days from the date of the incident to file your claim.

Every local EEOC office has its own procedures about how to file a claim.  This information can be found on the EEOC’s website.  Once your claim is filed, the EEOC will conduct a preliminary investigation.  If it appears that you have a valid complaint, an EEOC representative will discuss your claim’s strengths and weaknesses with you.  The decision on whether to continue is up to you.

If you do decide to continue, the EEOC will continue investigating, and will order the employer to stop its age discrimination practice.  Usually, the EEOC will also try to mediate between you and the employer.  This is usually a successful option – in 2007, the EEOC recovered over $66 million in age bias-related mediation.

If this approach is unsuccessful, or if the employer’s action was particularly bad, the next step to consider is a lawsuit.  The EEOC will sometimes bring a lawsuit against an employer on your behalf.  You can also bring a lawsuit – the only limitations are that you must wait at least 60 days after filing a claim with the EEOC, and you have to bring your lawsuit within 90 days of the EEOC deciding not to file suit on their own.

Finally, it is important to note that many states have enacted their own age bias laws, and some of these laws offer more protections than federal law.  If you are the victim of age bias, you should consult with a discrimination lawyers to decide the best option open to you.