What exactly is the EEOC?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency responsible for enforcing federal laws that prohibit discrimination. The laws apply to job applicants and employees alike. Discrimination can be based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information. Such laws also protect people who complain about discrimination, file a charge of discrimination, or participate in investigations or lawsuits. An EEOC lawyer can often help a client navigate the ever-changing EEOC process.
When does the EEOC get involved?
Most federal discrimination laws require an applicant or employee to file a charge with the EEOC before filing a lawsuit. Once a charge is filed, the employer is notified within 10 days and an EEOC investigation into the claim begins. The investigation may include a request for a statement of the employer’s position regarding the charge, a request for additional information from the company including contact information for other employees as potential witnesses, or even an on-site visit.
What happens after an EEOC investigation?
Upon the completion of its investigation, the EEOC makes a determination regarding the claim. If it finds no reasonable evidence to support the charge, the employee receives a Dismissal and Notice of Rights. This indicates that the EEOC will not pursue the charge but that the employee still has a right to file a lawsuit in federal court. On the other hand, if the EEOC finds reasonable support for the charge, it issues a Letter of Determination. This invites the parties to participate in an informal resolution process. If a charge is not resolved informally, the EEOC can choose to litigate the claim or issue a Notice of Right to Sue. This notifies the employee that he or she can file a lawsuit in federal court.
When does an employer need an EEOC lawyer?
An employer clearly benefits from having an EEOC lawyer throughout the charge investigation process, but an experienced EEOC lawyer can also provide invaluable advice before any EEOC involvement. For example, an EEOC lawyer can advise the employer on policies and procedures regarding hiring, accommodating or terminating employees to ensure compliance with federal discrimination laws. Additionally, the lawyer can provide guidance and training to employers on proper implementation of such policies and procedures. An EEOC lawyer can also help analyze specific situations and scenarios to advise employers of possible discrimination concerns.
When does an employee need an EEOC lawyer?
An employee can also benefit from hiring an experienced EEOC lawyer both before and after an EEOC charge is filed. As noted above, most federal discrimination claims must go through the EEOC. But, before filing a charge, an EEOC lawyer can evaluate potential state and federal claim. This helps to determine the best route given the employee’s specific issue. In addition, if an EEOC charge is the best course of action, an EEOC lawyer can assist in drafting the charge and can represent the employee during the EEOC investigation. After the completion of an EEOC investigation, an EEOC lawyer can advise the employee during the informal resolution process and prepare and file the lawsuit if a resolution is not reached.