Today, the Supreme Court decided that an employee who filed an intake questionnaire along with a lengthy affidavit alleging age discrimination by her employer can proceed with her class-action lawsuit. (Read the opinion in Federal Express Corp. v. Holowecki.) The employee never completed the EEOC's official charge form, and the EEOC didn't treat her filing as a charge of discrimination. However, because she provided all of the information necessary and indicated that she wanted the EEOC to take action, the Court found that her filing should have been treated as a charge.
Whether her filing qualified as a charge was hugely important because of the role the EEOC plays in discrimination lawsuits. Before suing for discrimination, an employee must file a charge with the EEOC. In this case, Holowecki's lawsuit was initially dismissed because the district court found that she hadn't filed a charge. Now, she and other employees may proceed with their class action lawsuit.
If you want to know more about EEOC charges and discrimination lawsuits (and how to avoid them!), pick up a copy of The Essential Guide to Handling Workplace Harassment and Discrimination, by Deborah C. England (Nolo).