42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 : US Code - Section 2000E-5: Enforcement provisions

    (a) Power of Commission to prevent unlawful employment practices
      The Commission is empowered, as hereinafter provided, to prevent
    any person from engaging in any unlawful employment practice as set
    forth in section 2000e-2 or 2000e-3 of this title.
    (b) Charges by persons aggrieved or member of Commission of
      unlawful employment practices by employers, etc.; filing;
      allegations; notice to respondent; contents of notice;
      investigation by Commission; contents of charges; prohibition on
      disclosure of charges; determination of reasonable cause;
      conference, conciliation, and persuasion for elimination of
      unlawful practices; prohibition on disclosure of informal
      endeavors to end unlawful practices; use of evidence in
      subsequent proceedings; penalties for disclosure of information;
      time for determination of reasonable cause
      Whenever a charge is filed by or on behalf of a person claiming
    to be aggrieved, or by a member of the Commission, alleging that an
    employer, employment agency, labor organization, or joint labor-
    management committee controlling apprenticeship or other training
    or retraining, including on-the-job training programs, has engaged
    in an unlawful employment practice, the Commission shall serve a
    notice of the charge (including the date, place and circumstances
    of the alleged unlawful employment practice) on such employer,
    employment agency, labor organization, or joint labor-management
    committee (hereinafter referred to as the "respondent") within ten
    days, and shall make an investigation thereof. Charges shall be in
    writing under oath or affirmation and shall contain such
    information and be in such form as the Commission requires. Charges
    shall not be made public by the Commission. If the Commission
    determines after such investigation that there is not reasonable
    cause to believe that the charge is true, it shall dismiss the
    charge and promptly notify the person claiming to be aggrieved and
    the respondent of its action. In determining whether reasonable
    cause exists, the Commission shall accord substantial weight to
    final findings and orders made by State or local authorities in
    proceedings commenced under State or local law pursuant to the
    requirements of subsections (c) and (d) of this section. If the
    Commission determines after such investigation that there is
    reasonable cause to believe that the charge is true, the Commission
    shall endeavor to eliminate any such alleged unlawful employment
    practice by informal methods of conference, conciliation, and
    persuasion. Nothing said or done during and as a part of such
    informal endeavors may be made public by the Commission, its
    officers or employees, or used as evidence in a subsequent
    proceeding without the written consent of the persons concerned.
    Any person who makes public information in violation of this
    subsection shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for
    not more than one year, or both. The Commission shall make its
    determination on reasonable cause as promptly as possible and, so
    far as practicable, not later than one hundred and twenty days from
    the filing of the charge or, where applicable under subsection (c)
    or (d) of this section, from the date upon which the Commission is
    authorized to take action with respect to the charge.
    (c) State or local enforcement proceedings; notification of State
      or local authority; time for filing charges with Commission;
      commencement of proceedings
      In the case of an alleged unlawful employment practice occurring
    in a State, or political subdivision of a State, which has a State
    or local law prohibiting the unlawful employment practice alleged
    and establishing or authorizing a State or local authority to grant
    or seek relief from such practice or to institute criminal
    proceedings with respect thereto upon receiving notice thereof, no
    charge may be filed under subsection (a) (!1) of this section by
    the person aggrieved before the expiration of sixty days after
    proceedings have been commenced under the State or local law,
    unless such proceedings have been earlier terminated, provided that
    such sixty-day period shall be extended to one hundred and twenty
    days during the first year after the effective date of such State
    or local law. If any requirement for the commencement of such
    proceedings is imposed by a State or local authority other than a
    requirement of the filing of a written and signed statement of the
    facts upon which the proceeding is based, the proceeding shall be
    deemed to have been commenced for the purposes of this subsection
    at the time such statement is sent by registered mail to the
    appropriate State or local authority.

    (d) State or local enforcement proceedings; notification of State
      or local authority; time for action on charges by Commission
      In the case of any charge filed by a member of the Commission
    alleging an unlawful employment practice occurring in a State or
    political subdivision of a State which has a State or local law
    prohibiting the practice alleged and establishing or authorizing a
    State or local authority to grant or seek relief from such practice
    or to institute criminal proceedings with respect thereto upon
    receiving notice thereof, the Commission shall, before taking any
    action with respect to such charge, notify the appropriate State or
    local officials and, upon request, afford them a reasonable time,
    but not less than sixty days (provided that such sixty-day period
    shall be extended to one hundred and twenty days during the first
    year after the effective day of such State or local law), unless a
    shorter period is requested, to act under such State or local law
    to remedy the practice alleged.
    (e) Time for filing charges; time for service of notice of charge
      on respondent; filing of charge by Commission with State or local
      agency; seniority system
      (1) A charge under this section shall be filed within one hundred
    and eighty days after the alleged unlawful employment practice
    occurred and notice of the charge (including the date, place and
    circumstances of the alleged unlawful employment practice) shall be
    served upon the person against whom such charge is made within ten
    days thereafter, except that in a case of an unlawful employment
    practice with respect to which the person aggrieved has initially
    instituted proceedings with a State or local agency with authority
    to grant or seek relief from such practice or to institute criminal
    proceedings with respect thereto upon receiving notice thereof,
    such charge shall be filed by or on behalf of the person aggrieved
    within three hundred days after the alleged unlawful employment
    practice occurred, or within thirty days after receiving notice
    that the State or local agency has terminated the proceedings under
    the State or local law, whichever is earlier, and a copy of such
    charge shall be filed by the Commission with the State or local
    agency.
      (2) For purposes of this section, an unlawful employment practice
    occurs, with respect to a seniority system that has been adopted
    for an intentionally discriminatory purpose in violation of this
    subchapter (whether or not that discriminatory purpose is apparent
    on the face of the seniority provision), when the seniority system
    is adopted, when an individual becomes subject to the seniority
    system, or when a person aggrieved is injured by the application of
    the seniority system or provision of the system.
      (3)(A) For purposes of this section, an unlawful employment
    practice occurs, with respect to discrimination in compensation in
    violation of this subchapter, when a discriminatory compensation
    decision or other practice is adopted, when an individual becomes
    subject to a discriminatory compensation decision or other
    practice, or when an individual is affected by application of a
    discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, including
    each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid, resulting
    in whole or in part from such a decision or other practice.
      (B) In addition to any relief authorized by section 1981a of this
    title, liability may accrue and an aggrieved person may obtain
    relief as provided in subsection (g)(1), including recovery of back
    pay for up to two years preceding the filing of the charge, where
    the unlawful employment practices that have occurred during the
    charge filing period are similar or related to unlawful employment
    practices with regard to discrimination in compensation that
    occurred outside the time for filing a charge.
    (f) Civil action by Commission, Attorney General, or person
      aggrieved; preconditions; procedure; appointment of attorney;
      payment of fees, costs, or security; intervention; stay of
      Federal proceedings; action for appropriate temporary or
      preliminary relief pending final disposition of charge;
      jurisdiction and venue of United States courts; designation of
      judge to hear and determine case; assignment of case for hearing;
      expedition of case; appointment of master
      (1) If within thirty days after a charge is filed with the
    Commission or within thirty days after expiration of any period of
    reference under subsection (c) or (d) of this section, the
    Commission has been unable to secure from the respondent a
    conciliation agreement acceptable to the Commission, the Commission
    may bring a civil action against any respondent not a government,
    governmental agency, or political subdivision named in the charge.
    In the case of a respondent which is a government, governmental
    agency, or political subdivision, if the Commission has been unable
    to secure from the respondent a conciliation agreement acceptable
    to the Commission, the Commission shall take no further action and
    shall refer the case to the Attorney General who may bring a civil
    action against such respondent in the appropriate United States
    district court. The person or persons aggrieved shall have the
    right to intervene in a civil action brought by the Commission or
    the Attorney General in a case involving a government, governmental
    agency, or political subdivision. If a charge filed with the
    Commission pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, is dismissed
    by the Commission, or if within one hundred and eighty days from
    the filing of such charge or the expiration of any period of
    reference under subsection (c) or (d) of this section, whichever is
    later, the Commission has not filed a civil action under this
    section or the Attorney General has not filed a civil action in a
    case involving a government, governmental agency, or political
    subdivision, or the Commission has not entered into a conciliation
    agreement to which the person aggrieved is a party, the Commission,
    or the Attorney General in a case involving a government,
    governmental agency, or political subdivision, shall so notify the
    person aggrieved and within ninety days after the giving of such
    notice a civil action may be brought against the respondent named
    in the charge (A) by the person claiming to be aggrieved or (B) if
    such charge was filed by a member of the Commission, by any person
    whom the charge alleges was aggrieved by the alleged unlawful
    employment practice. Upon application by the complainant and in
    such circumstances as the court may deem just, the court may
    appoint an attorney for such complainant and may authorize the
    commencement of the action without the payment of fees, costs, or
    security. Upon timely application, the court may, in its
    discretion, permit the Commission, or the Attorney General in a
    case involving a government, governmental agency, or political
    subdivision, to intervene in such civil action upon certification
    that the case is of general public importance. Upon request, the
    court may, in its discretion, stay further proceedings for not more
    than sixty days pending the termination of State or local
    proceedings described in subsection (c) or (d) of this section or
    further efforts of the Commission to obtain voluntary compliance.
      (2) Whenever a charge is filed with the Commission and the
    Commission concludes on the basis of a preliminary investigation
    that prompt judicial action is necessary to carry out the purposes
    of this Act, the Commission, or the Attorney General in a case
    involving a government, governmental agency, or political
    subdivision, may bring an action for appropriate temporary or
    preliminary relief pending final disposition of such charge. Any
    temporary restraining order or other order granting preliminary or
    temporary relief shall be issued in accordance with rule 65 of the
    Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It shall be the duty of a court
    having jurisdiction over proceedings under this section to assign
    cases for hearing at the earliest practicable date and to cause
    such cases to be in every way expedited.
      (3) Each United States district court and each United States
    court of a place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States
    shall have jurisdiction of actions brought under this subchapter.
    Such an action may be brought in any judicial district in the State
    in which the unlawful employment practice is alleged to have been
    committed, in the judicial district in which the employment records
    relevant to such practice are maintained and administered, or in
    the judicial district in which the aggrieved person would have
    worked but for the alleged unlawful employment practice, but if the
    respondent is not found within any such district, such an action
    may be brought within the judicial district in which the respondent
    has his principal office. For purposes of sections 1404 and 1406 of
    title 28, the judicial district in which the respondent has his
    principal office shall in all cases be considered a district in
    which the action might have been brought.
      (4) It shall be the duty of the chief judge of the district (or
    in his absence, the acting chief judge) in which the case is
    pending immediately to designate a judge in such district to hear
    and determine the case. In the event that no judge in the district
    is available to hear and determine the case, the chief judge of the
    district, or the acting chief judge, as the case may be, shall
    certify this fact to the chief judge of the circuit (or in his
    absence, the acting chief judge) who shall then designate a
    district or circuit judge of the circuit to hear and determine the
    case.
      (5) It shall be the duty of the judge designated pursuant to this
    subsection to assign the case for hearing at the earliest
    practicable date and to cause the case to be in every way
    expedited. If such judge has not scheduled the case for trial
    within one hundred and twenty days after issue has been joined,
    that judge may appoint a master pursuant to rule 53 of the Federal
    Rules of Civil Procedure.
    (g) Injunctions; appropriate affirmative action; equitable relief;
      accrual of back pay; reduction of back pay; limitations on
      judicial orders
      (1) If the court finds that the respondent has intentionally
    engaged in or is intentionally engaging in an unlawful employment
    practice charged in the complaint, the court may enjoin the
    respondent from engaging in such unlawful employment practice, and
    order such affirmative action as may be appropriate, which may
    include, but is not limited to, reinstatement or hiring of
    employees, with or without back pay (payable by the employer,
    employment agency, or labor organization, as the case may be,
    responsible for the unlawful employment practice), or any other
    equitable relief as the court deems appropriate. Back pay liability
    shall not accrue from a date more than two years prior to the
    filing of a charge with the Commission. Interim earnings or amounts
    earnable with reasonable diligence by the person or persons
    discriminated against shall operate to reduce the back pay
    otherwise allowable.
      (2)(A) No order of the court shall require the admission or
    reinstatement of an individual as a member of a union, or the
    hiring, reinstatement, or promotion of an individual as an
    employee, or the payment to him of any back pay, if such individual
    was refused admission, suspended, or expelled, or was refused
    employment or advancement or was suspended or discharged for any
    reason other than discrimination on account of race, color,
    religion, sex, or national origin or in violation of section 2000e-
    3(a) of this title.
      (B) On a claim in which an individual proves a violation under
    section 2000e-2(m) of this title and a respondent demonstrates that
    the respondent would have taken the same action in the absence of
    the impermissible motivating factor, the court - 
        (i) may grant declaratory relief, injunctive relief (except as
      provided in clause (ii)), and attorney's fees and costs
      demonstrated to be directly attributable only to the pursuit of a
      claim under section 2000e-2(m) of this title; and
        (ii) shall not award damages or issue an order requiring any
      admission, reinstatement, hiring, promotion, or payment,
      described in subparagraph (A).
    (h) Provisions of chapter 6 of title 29 not applicable to civil
      actions for prevention of unlawful practices
      The provisions of chapter 6 of title 29 shall not apply with
    respect to civil actions brought under this section.
    (i) Proceedings by Commission to compel compliance with judicial
      orders
      In any case in which an employer, employment agency, or labor
    organization fails to comply with an order of a court issued in a
    civil action brought under this section, the Commission may
    commence proceedings to compel compliance with such order.
    (j) Appeals
      Any civil action brought under this section and any proceedings
    brought under subsection (i) of this section shall be subject to
    appeal as provided in sections 1291 and 1292, title 28.
    (k) Attorney's fee; liability of Commission and United States for
      costs
      In any action or proceeding under this subchapter the court, in
    its discretion, may allow the prevailing party, other than the
    Commission or the United States, a reasonable attorney's fee
    (including expert fees) as part of the costs, and the Commission
    and the United States shall be liable for costs the same as a
    private person.