Workplace discrimination is becoming increasingly less common thanks to the immense number of laws that prevent employers from taking adverse actions against workers for things like whistleblowing on unethical conduct, requesting a raise, or working with other employees to unionize. However, these instances still do exist and you do have the right to hold your employer accountable when they happen by filing a workplace discrimination suit. Before you begin the process of filing a lawsuit, which starts by filing a charge with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, it’s important to carefully consider what will happen after you make your initial claim.
Filing Your Charge
If you plan on filing a suit, you must first file a charge with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will then investigate your complaint and issue you a “Notice of Right to Sue” which will open a 90 day window in which to file your lawsuit. You may request this notice before the investigation has completed, which then gives you permission to file your lawsuit, but only if either 180 days have passed since you filed your charge, or your investigation will not be completed within that 180 day allotment.
What Happens After Filing a Charge?
When you file a charge with the EEOC, the EEOC will notify your employer about your complaint within 10 days. The charge does not mean your employer has been found guilty of discrimination; merely that you’ve issued a complaint against them that will now be investigated by the EEOC. The EEOC must also inform your employer if they have any rights to pursue mediation or settlement. These are voluntary resolutions, and you only need to pursue them if you feel it’s prudent.
While investigating the charge, you’ll be asked to provide a pretty substantial amount of information to assist with the discovery process, including a statement of position. Your employer will also be permitted to do the same. Your employer will also be asked to respond to requests for information, permit on-site visits to assist with the finding process, and even provide contact information for other employees in order to obtain witness statements. Employers are prohibited from taking or threatening any adverse actions against employees who assist with a workplace discrimination lawsuit. In total, this whole process can take as much as 10 months or more to fully complete.
Once the investigation has completed, the EEOC will make a decision as to the merit of the charge and send you a document that corresponds. If they believe there isn’t enough merit to show that discrimination occurred, they’ll send a “Dismissal and Notice of Rights,” which informs you that your charge has been dropped, and you have the right to file a lawsuit in federal court within 90 days. Your employer will also be given this ability.
If the EEOC thinks there is reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred, they’ll send you a “Letter of Determination,” which is also an invitation to join the EEOC in the process known as conciliation, which seeks to resolve the charge through an informal process. If conciliation doesn’t succeed in resolving the charge, the EEOC can enforce violations of its statutes by filing a lawsuit in court. Should they choose not to exercise this option, you’ll be given a Notice of Right to Sue, which means you may file a lawsuit yourself within a 90 day period.
If you wish to pursue a workplace discrimination lawsuit, filing your initial charge is one of the most important parts of the entire matter. Make sure you have qualified counsel from an attorney on your side to minimize mistakes reduce the chances that your case is thrown out or overturned from weak testimony and supporting evidence.
Call The Law Firm of John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law, PLLC today at (202) 350-3881 to request a phone consultation.