Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
You call us and you want to go right to court. We tell you that you cannot always do that. Employment law claims for discrimination or retaliation under Title VII or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) or the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) must first be filed with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC).
We can file a charge with the EEOC. This will state the basics of your claim and the kind of discrimination that you have suffered.
After the charge is filed, the EEOC often attempts to get the parties to mediate. The employer has to agree to mediate. This will involve careful preparation to present your case to the mediator, and becoming aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. The employer’s attorney will be reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of the employer’s defenses with the employer. It will be necessary to evaluate the likelihood that you would prevail in court on your claims, and the amount of monetary damages that you might get, as against the risks and stress of litigation.
The EEOC has experienced mediators, and sometime the mediations last all day. The mediator often meets with the parties together in one room, at which time each party makes a statement of their side of the case. The mediator will then shuttle between each side (each in separate rooms), and discuss the reasons for and what kind of settlement might be appropriate. The mediation is not a trial, and the mediator does not have the authority to force the parties to settlement. A settlement may happen if both sides are reasonable, and realize there is a value to making concessions to avoid the stress, time and expense of litigation.
If the mediation does not result in a settlement, the EEOC will assign the case to an investigator (a different person from the mediator), who will request information from both sides. The investigator may review documents and affidavits, and can interview witnesses. The parties will have to submit written position statements and rebuttals.
Once the EEOC finishes its investigation, the EEOC may issue a finding that it believes that there is merit to your case. This decision is definitely helpful, but it does not end the case, because you still have to file in court. While the court may take into consideration a finding of the EEOC that is favorable to you (or an unfavorable one), it not bound to follow that decision. In many cases the EEOC makes no finding at all about the merits of your claims. In any case, 60 days after the filing of an age discrimination case with EEOC, or 180 days after for other discrimination cases, you can request a right to sue, which will enable you to go to court. You have to start your court case within 90 days from the right to sue letter.
Contact us online or call us at (212) 949-1001 if you are considering filing a charge with the EEOC about a New York State or New York City employer, or have received a right to sue, so that we can review options for filing a complaint in court.