We often receive calls or emails from potential clients who want to file an EEOC charge or have already filed an EEOC charge and are confused about the process. We generally do not assist people with filing an EEOC charge, but we are often retained by clients to assist them at various points during the EEOC process. So the following article will briefly explain the EEOC process and where we can get involved and assist you.
The first step is filing an EEOC charge (or complaint) against your current or former employer for discrimination or harassment or retaliation. You can do so by filling out a form on the EEOC's website (eeoc.gov) or by going in person to the EEOC's office on South Howard Street in Baltimore City (which we highly recommend). Your charge must be filed within 300 days of the date of the harassment or retaliation or termination, and the EEOC intake investigator will help you fill out the necessary forms.
After your charge is filed, the EEOC will normally send a copy to your employer and ask if they want to participate in the EEOC's mediation program. If your employer wants to try to mediate the matter, we always strongly encourage our clients to agree to mediation, because it often results in a resolution of the matter. That is the first point in the process where we are often hired by clients to represent them, as we are very familiar with the mediation process and can assist you with analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your case and negotiating with your former employer (and their attorneys). If the employer does not agree to mediation, then the employer will be required to submit a position statement, which is a written statement of their response to your allegations. You may then be asked to submit a rebuttal to the employer's position statement. That is the second point in the process where clients often hire us to assist them, because we frequently draft rebuttal statements.
The case will then be assigned to an investigator who will investigate the case, but that process often takes 12-24 months to complete. In some cases, the investigator will conduct a "fact-finding conference" where the investigator has both parties meet with the investigator at the EEOC to discuss the allegations and the facts underlying the case. That is the third point where clients often hire us to represent them. Finally, the investigator will issue a decision, and the EEOC will either find "cause" to believe that discrimination or harassment or retaliation has occurred, or the EEOC will not find "cause" and will simply issue you a "right to sue" letter, which means that you have 90 days to file suit in court or your rights will be lost forever. That is the final point where we are often retained by clients -- either to participate in the "conciliation" process if the EEOC has found "cause", or to review a case to determine if we want to take the case to court.
If you have any questions about your EEOC case or filing an EEOC case, give us a call or send us an email and we will try to assist you.