Can You File an EEOC Complaint After Quitting
Workplace discrimination is a challenging situation; often, an employee decides to walk away from their position rather than continue working in a discriminatory environment. This sometimes leads a former employer to ask, “Can I file an EEOC complaint after I quit?”
If you think you’ve been discriminated against by an employer, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC enforces federal laws regarding the civil rights of employees and job applicants.
In most circumstances, you can file an EEOC complaint after quitting your job. It’s important to go through the process of filing an EEOC complaint with an awareness of the potential risks and benefits and under the guidance of an experienced EEOC lawyer.
Understanding the EEOC and Its Guidelines
Federal civil rights laws make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees and potential employees. Yet these laws don’t do any good if no one holds employers accountable for breaking them.
The primary purpose of the EEOC is to enforce anti-discrimination laws by investigating claims of employment discrimination.
Federal law protects employees from discrimination due to the following:
- National origin
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientation
Both employees and job candidates can be the victims of employer discrimination, and such discrimination is illegal in all types of work situations, including:
When an employee is treated unfairly or suffers negative workplace consequences and believes the action was related to a reason protected under civil rights laws, they can file a complaint with the EEOC asking the commission to investigate the employer for discriminatory workplace practices.
Time Limits for Filing an EEOC Complaint
An employee who experiences discrimination at work has a limited amount of time in which to file an EEOC complaint.
Generally, federal law allows 180 days from the day the discrimination occurred to file an EEOC complaint. In some cases, this deadline can be extended to 300 days from the date of the discrimination if a state or local agency also enforces laws that ban employment discrimination for the same matter.
One exception to these deadlines regards complaints based on age discrimination. The deadline extension for age-related complaints can only be extended if a state law (not just a local agency) enforces employer age discrimination laws.
Since there’s no set time limit for filing an EEOC complaint, it can be difficult to know exactly how much time is allowed in a specific case until you speak with an EEOC lawyer.
If you’re considering taking action against an employer through the EEOC, it’s best to consult with an EEOC lawyer immediately after the discrimination occurs.
Since state and local laws allow for extensions in many situations, you should also take the time to ask a lawyer about your options, even if the standard 180-day window has passed.
Circumstances Under Which You Can File an EEOC Complaint After Quitting
EEOC lawyers often hear former employees ask, “Can I file an EEOC complaint after I quit?” You can file a complaint with the EEOC regardless of your employment status.
In some cases, being no longer employed by the company may be the primary reason for filing the complaint, as in situations where an employee believes they were terminated for discriminatory reasons.
Even if you left your position voluntarily, the law does not specify that a worker must currently be employed by the employer against whom they are filing a complaint. However, you do need to ensure that you meet the requirements for filing an EEOC complaint before you move forward.
A former employee must meet two key criteria to successfully move forward with an employment discrimination complaint: They must file within the given deadline and have valid grounds for claiming discriminatory practices.
The simplest way to confirm that you’re eligible to file an EEOC complaint after quitting your job is to take advantage of a free consultation with an EEOC lawyer.
A lawyer can review state laws, local agency regulations, and EEOC requirements to confirm whether you have time to file and whether your experience constitutes grounds for a claim that will hold up under investigation.
Examples of EEOC Complaints
Anti-discrimination laws offer protection from employer discrimination in various work situations and can be based on many factors. This means that EEOC complaints can focus on a large variety of situations.
Some common examples of EEOC complaints include:
- Harassment in the workplace
- Refusal of an expected promotion
- Denial of an expected increase in pay or benefits
- Discriminatory practices based on an employee’s age
- Discriminatory practices based on an employee’s disability
- Unequal pay for men and women with the same work duties
- Refusal to make reasonable accommodations for religious beliefs
- Discrimination based on genetic diseases, disorders, or conditions
- Any form of employer retaliation for complaints regarding discrimination
- Discrimination due to pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy complications
- Refusal to make reasonable accommodations for physical or mental disabilities
Not all unfair employee actions or practices qualify as discrimination. A former employee hoping to submit a successful EEOC complaint needs to begin by consulting an experienced EEOC lawyer about whether their situation meets the criteria to be considered an instance of discrimination.
The most common type of EEOC complaint regards employer retaliation. Retaliation by an employer often stems from some action initiated by the former employee, such as reporting discrimination or harassment to supervisors or the company’s HR department.
Other times, the retaliation is motivated simply by the fact that an employee has chosen to leave the company.
Common forms of employer retaliation after employment ends include:
- Refusal to provide references
- Refusal to provide recommendations
- Making it difficult for the employee to find a new job (blacklisting)
Employer retaliation is an illegal practice; when it occurs with concerns about discrimination, it becomes grounds for an EEOC complaint.
How to File an EEOC Complaint After Quitting
Filing an EEOC complaint after quitting a job is much the same as filing while still employed, but former employees may have a few additional requirements to meet.
The basic steps for filing an EEOC complaint are as follows:
- Consult with EEOC lawyers about whether you have grounds for a complaint
- Choose a lawyer to handle your case
- Compile evidence of the discriminatory treatment
- Gather witness testimony from any coworkers willing to corroborate your claim
- File a formal complaint with the EEOC
- Attend subsequent meetings and mediation sessions
Most former employees considering filing a complaint with the EEOC are primarily concerned with one key question: how to win an EEOC complaint.
Ultimately, winning a complaint depends on proving to the EEOC that the treatment you received constitutes employment discrimination. This means that building a strong case is the key to success.
The more proof you can provide, the greater your likelihood of winning. Keeping copies of any emails, memos, notes, and other documentation that support your claim is essential to building a strong case.
Risks and Benefits of Filing an EEOC Complaint After Quitting
Accusations of discrimination are a serious matter. Before moving forward with an EEOC complaint, it’s essential to understand the risks and benefits and ensure you have legitimate grounds for a claim.
The EEOC process can be a lengthy, complicated legal affair. Most employers will work hard to fight against claims of discrimination. Being found guilty of EEOC offenses can lead to lawsuit payouts, fines, legal expenses, bad publicity, and damage to the company’s reputation.
A former employee who takes on an EEOC complaint without valid grounds, sufficient evidence, or experienced legal representation risks becoming embroiled in drawn-out legal proceedings with nothing to show for their trouble.
However, a successfully executed EEOC complaint can benefit a former employee who experienced workplace discrimination. Success brings satisfaction from knowing that the law was upheld and an employer was held accountable for their illegal actions.
Filing a complaint also makes it less likely that other employees will experience the same unfair treatment in the future.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of winning an EEOC complaint is the possibility of compensation. The EEOC can grant you a Notice of Right-to-Sue, allowing you to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for the discrimination endured in the workplace.
Benefits of Hiring an EEOC Lawyer in Florida
While the EEOC allows former employees to self-submit a claim directly to their offices, attempting to pursue a discrimination complaint without legal representation is a mistake.
Even if your treatment qualifies as discrimination and you have evidence to prove it, your complaint may still be unsuccessful if you don’t have an experienced EEOC lawyer representing you.
If you’re hoping to file an EEOC complaint, Florida attorneys recommend finding an experienced lawyer to increase your chances of success and make the process easier.
Ways in which an EEOC lawyer can help you include:
- Identifying the strength of your case
- Advising you on how to collect convincing evidence of discrimination
- Guiding you through the complicated legal process of submitting a complaint
- Filing the complaint on your behalf
- Representing you in legal proceedings
- Negotiating a settlement with your employer
Working with an EEOC lawyer is recommended for any EEOC complaint. However, certain circumstances make it particularly necessary for an experienced lawyer to handle a complaint. This is particularly true when the complaint involves a high-stakes outcome or the legalities surrounding the discrimination are especially complicated.
What to Look for in an EEOC Lawyer in Florida
When you’re ready to move forward with an EEOC complaint in Florida, your priority should be to locate a lawyer with the expertise you need to win. EEOC cases require a specific body of knowledge, including anti-discrimination law, employment law, and an in-depth understanding of the complex EEOC investigation process.
When choosing an EEOC lawyer, looking into their practice history and case results is important. Verify that a potential lawyer has a long track record of successfully handling EEOC complaints.
Ask what percentage of their overall cases concerns employer discrimination, what percentage of EEOC complaints their firm wins, and what outcomes they secure through the EEOC mediation process.
A Florida EEOC lawyer with a track record of success in EEOC complaints should be able to provide clear data on their outcomes and examples of past results.
Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. is a Florida law firm specializing in employment discrimination cases, including EEOC complaints. As our client testimonials demonstrate, our experienced EEOC lawyers have a long track record of helping clients successfully fight back against employer discrimination.
Time for filing an EEOC complaint is limited. If you suspect your former employer’s actions may qualify as discrimination, contact Wenzel Fenton Cabassa and speak with an experienced Florida EEOC lawyer about your options.