Presenting Your Claim in EEOC
Author: New York employment discrimination attorney Alena Shautsova
EEOC or Equal employment opportunity commission is Federal administrative body that is responsible for investigation of employees’ complaints of discrimination and retaliation at workplace. Filing a complaint with the EEOC, often is a necessary step before one may present their case in Federal Court.
The process starts with filing a form 5 and supporting evidence which may include your affidavit, copies of emails, copies of discipline reports, and so on. After the complaint is filed, an employer may choose to participate in the process by filing an answer, or may choose to completely ignore the process. EEOC does not have a real power to “punish” the employer even if it renders a probable cause finding (a finding that, probably, your employer discriminated against you based on a protected ground). Most likely, even if the EEOC will conduct an investigation, you still will have to go to court to receive a compensation for your damages and/or restore your rights. However, what you say, what you submit and how you handle the EEOC process in general is very important for the future court proceedings. Even though administrative records (records from the EEOC) are not always admissible in court, you should be very sure that everything and anything that you do that the other side may use against you, will be used against you (or at least they will try to use it against you).
Let’s say that you will forget to list a ground for discrimination. Maybe you thought it was not that important to list that the discrimination also came from a fact that you are older than other employees, and you focused more on a disability factor. Guess what, your employer will probably be successful in keeping the age discrimination out of your federal case. Or, let’s say you did not think it is important to mention several acts of harassment which were minor compared to the more outrageous one… This will also might cause an issue and will limit recovery you may get in federal court.
Another important factor to remember, that those State law claims that would be found unfounded during the administrative proceedings, may likely be precluded in court all together.
That is why presenting your claim in EEOC or New York State Division of Human Rights correctly and fully is very important.
Not all “lost” at EEOC stage cases are hopeless. First, even if you received a no-probable cause finding, you may still present your claims in Federal court where they will be heard de novo (from the start). Second, if you made an honest mistake and can prove that employer was aware of your other claims, or your presented claims are very closely related to the claims you omitted by mistake, you may still restore your chance of presenting those claims as well.
If you filed your case with EEOC and/or New York State Division of Human Rights and have questions about the process, please contact us at 917-885-2261.