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The EEOC’s Role in Discrimination Lawsuits

West Palm Beach Business Litigation Attorney 2023-01-26 16-49-13

Although all of us try to do our best not to discriminate, the fact is that often, accusations are leveled against your business even in the best of circumstances. And while you may have concerns when there is a lawsuit filed against you, that concern can be made worse when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sends you correspondence.

When they do, what happens? What do you do after the EEOC contacts you?

What is the EEOC and What Does it Do?

The EEOC is the government agency charged with enforcing claims of employment discrimination, as well as other employment related lawsuits that involve federal statutes.

The EEOC does not get involved with any employee or employer lawsuits that fall under state employment laws. It also isn’t required in age discrimination cases or cases brought under the Equal Pay Act.

What to Do

While being contacted by a government agency is never good, you may feel better knowing that the government didn’t actually actively find you, or learn about you-contacting the EEOC is a required step for employees who feel they are victims of discrimination.

The EEOC can, and often does, just dismiss charges that it sees as baseless. If there is some possible merit to what the employee is saying (which doesn’t mean they think you are guilty) the EEOC will conduct an investigation into the allegations made by the employee. You as the employer, will have a chance to provide the EEOC with your side of the story, including supplying any supporting documentation.

The employee cannot file any private lawsuit, while the investigation is continuing (although in some cases, the employee can ask that the EEOC end its investigation early).

The EEOC will often act as a go between, even requiring that parties go to mediation. While this can be seen as an inconvenience, it may have a benefit, if mediation yields a quick and relatively inexpensive resolution to the case. It can also allow your attorneys to get some insight on the facts and information surrounding the employee’s case.

The EEOC isn’t trying to give the employee any amount of money, or any set compensation. The EEOC is solely focused on rectifying (perceived) wrongs, and providing employees some satisfaction in age discrimination cases.

The EEOC’s Findings

The EEOC may bring its own charges against you, but it often does not. Even if it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean that you are necessarily innocent; in many cases, even when a case has merit, the EEOC will pass up the chance to pursue a discriminating employer, just for time and cost concerns.

Even if the EEOC does decline to take further action after an investigation, the employee can still sue in court (unless you settle with the employee during the EEOC’s investigatory period).

The decline by the EEOC doesn’t impede any of the employees rights. However, the employee must file a lawsuit 90 days after the EEOC declines the case (which will be stated in the issuance of a Right to Sue letter).

Do you have an employment law case? Call the West Palm Beach business litigation lawyers at Pike & Lustig today for help.




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