What Happens Once A Company Receives A Charge Of Discrimination?
The formal administrative process with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) begins when an employee files a Charge of Discrimination against their employer. The first step in the EEOC’s investigation is asking the employer to respond to the charge from their employee. The employer’s response (also referred to as an “Employer’s Position Statement”) should be preceded by an investigation by the employer into alleged discrimination. Depending on the employer’s resources, they may carry out an in-house investigation through the legal department or human resources department, or through an outside attorney. Upper management won’t necessarily know the day-to-day happenings within the various departments, so they will have to send someone to talk to the people who were there. They may interview co-workers to determine whether or not they were aware of any of the alleged discriminatory actions, and they will probably speak to the manager or supervisor who has been accused of discrimination or retaliation.
In the process of investigating, they will typically discover that there is more to the story than the alleged discrimination. Even if there was something questionable going on, the employer will usually latch on to evidence of non-discriminatory actions. For example, it’s very common for an Employer’s Position Statement to both deny that the discrimination ever took place, and also to justify their decision to fire the individual based on what the employer considers to be legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons. After the employer files its Position Statement, the employee will have one last chance to respond to the EEOC investigator. Unfortunately, due to limited resources at the EEOC, this is often as far as the investigation goes. Simply stated, the EEOC does not have the resources to conduct in-depth onsite investigations (in which they would go out to the workplace and interview co-workers and management in person). In cases where it looks like it is warranted (such as cases where there appears to be a pattern or practice of discrimination, or where the discrimination or harassment was on the extreme end of the spectrum), the EEOC is more likely to devote more resources to an investigation. However, if, as most often happens, the case ends up being simply an allegation by the employee and a denial by the employer, then that is as far as the process will go, and the EEOC will not pursue an enforcement action on the employee’s behalf. At that point, it would be up to the employee to pursue a private lawsuit.
Do I Need an Attorney To File A Discrimination Lawsuit Against A Former Or Current Employer?
An attorney is not required in order to file a discrimination lawsuit against a former or current employer, but it would make little sense for an employee to file a lawsuit on his own. The attorney will be aware of deadlines, understand the specific language from the statutes and cases that prohibit discrimination, and be prepared to argue against dismissal at the early stages of the case—something that almost all employers try to do.
Will A Discrimination Lawsuit Always End Up In Court?
It is important to distinguish between a Charge of Discrimination and a discrimination lawsuit. A Charge of Discrimination will not always end up in court for any one of several reasons. In the process of pursuing the Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC, the employee may learn about the employer’s potential defenses to the claim and may decide the chances of winning are low. The case may also be settled before a lawsuit is ever filed, either informally through negotiations between the employee’s attorney and the employer, or through a formal process is known as mediation, which the EEOC can facilitate. If the employee goes through that process and still wants to pursue a lawsuit, then they would have to find an attorney who is willing to represent them. However, it is also important to understand that even after a lawsuit is filed, the employee’s attorney will handle most of the work, and the employee may not ever have to make any court appearances before they see the resolution of the case. Once the lawsuit is filed, a judge will be assigned to the case and will be in charge of making the decision and setting the timeline. However, most discrimination claims can be resolved short of even filing a lawsuit, much less going to court.
How Does The EEOC’s Mediation Program Help Me Resolve A Charge Of Discrimination?
The EEOC’s mediation program is intended to bring the employee and employer together with a neutral third party to facilitate a discussion and find out if there is any chance of resolving the dispute without having to go through the full EEOC process and/or a lawsuit. The employer and employee can agree at any time until the date of trial to go to participate in mediation. Because of the high level of emotion that can be in play when there is a fundamental disagreement on whether the employee deserved to be fired, the mediator will often conduct the mediation with the employee in one room and the employer’s representative in another room. If emotions are not running high, then the employee and employer may discuss things in the same room and in the presence of a mediator who would guide the discussion. The mediator carries the responsibility of remaining neutral, helping the parties communicate with one another, helping the parties evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their case and the arguments from the other side, and helping them determine whether or not their case is worth fighting for.
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