Dealing with discrimination isn’t easy. When you experience harassment or any form of discrimination in the workplace, it takes a toll on your ability to perform at your best.
You shouldn’t wait to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). But, before you decide to go to the EEOC, it’s a good idea to first consult an employee rights attorney who is experienced in handling discrimination and EEOC mediation.
Here’s why you shouldn’t wait to file a charge with the EEOC:
Statutes of Limitation
There are statutes of limitation on discrimination cases that require you to file a charge against your employer for violation of the laws administered by the EEOC and state Counterparts within 180 days of the alleged violation under federal law. If there are additional protections offered by your state, such as those in Florida, you can file a charge up to 300 days from the alleged violation with the EEOC or a separate state commission such as the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR). In addition, if you are filing in Florida then you must file with FCHR within 365 days of the date in which the workplace violation occurred.
The Waiting Game
If you file a charge with the EEOC or FHRC, you file the charge, then sit around and wait. Many employees who have been discriminated against or even fired in the process need a more immediate solution than waiting the full 180 days it takes for the EEOC to conduct an investigation. You might be in a tight situation or running out of options upon the loss of a job if you were wrongfully terminated. In addition, if you go to the EEOC before meeting with an attorney, you run the risk of filing a charge that contains errors, misinformation, or an incomplete overview of your case.
The EEOC is a huge federal organization with a limited amount of time and resources. Although a trained EEOC representative can help you with your case, as employee rights attorneys, we often see clients who after months of waiting, are unable to move forward with a lawsuit due to mistakes in the filing process with the EEOC or FHRC. The potential success or failure of your case usually turns on the accuracy of your charge and initial statement. Therefore, you need an experienced employment law attorney to help you prepare before filing a charge.
Forgetting the Facts
By the time your charge is filed and your case is heard, months are likely to have passed. Over time, it’s common for some of the most important facts of the case to be forgotten, and your legal position will suffer as the result of you or others giving separate versions of the story. An employment law attorney can help you record the facts of your case from beginning to end while they are still fresh, identify and locate witnesses, and assist you in preserving the documents you will need to support your claims. Securing your cell phone, texts, and electronic data is time sensitive ( and necessary as loss, damage or corruption of this information is more likely as time passes).
Generally speaking, after your case is pending with the EEOC or FCHR for 180 days, you can file a suit in a state or federal court against the employer — assuming a no cause determination is not made prior to that time by the FCHR or in Federal Court within 90 days of a Notice of Right to Sue issued by the EEOC.
Additional statutes of limitation apply but the important point to remember is that the time your charge is pending before the EEOC of FCHR is valuable time — you do not need to just sit and wait. Your counsel can use this time to engage the employer in early efforts to resolve your claim, to prepare for further litigation, and to advise you of your options as your advocate.
Are you or is someone you know going to the EEOC?
If you believe your employee rights have been violated under current laws, the best thing you can do is seek the help of an experienced employee lawyer, then go to the EEOC. Get in touch with an employee rights attorney in Tampa by scheduling a free consultation with Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., today.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.