We often receive calls from potential clients who have just received a “right to sue” letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Sadly, at this stage it is often too late for us to take the case. If you think you have been discriminated against or retaliated against you have the right to file a charge and asked the EEOC to pursue the claim. The EEOC investigates these claims, and that may take months. Or it may not take long at all. In a tiny percentage of cases, the EEOC will sue your employer if they think you were discriminated against. Most of the time they will not. Sometimes, the EEOC asks the person filing the claim and the employer to participate in a voluntary mediation. Please understand that your employer does NOT have to sit down and negotiate with you, or settle with you, at this point. If the mediation doesn’t happen, or is not successful, and if the EEOC is not going to sue your employer (they usually don’t), they will send you a right to sue letter, and you will have 90 days to file a lawsuit, or your federal claims will likely die. You should NOT wait for the right to sue letter to contact a lawyer. A lawyer hired early in the process will have time to investigate the case and perhaps to negotiate with your employer even before you go to the EEOC. If you do end up going to the EEOC, the lawyer can guide and help you through the process and may be able to help you get a better result than if you handled it on your own. The employer will likely have a lawyer through the EEOC process, and you should, too.
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