There’s no requirement to have an attorney file an EEOC charge. However, here are the risks of not doing so:
- Missing EEOC Filing Deadline. EEOC charges must be filed within 180 days of an alleged violation of laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Individuals often miss this deadline - forfeiting important legal rights forever.
- Omitting Important Details. Some individuals fail to include information and claims that are relevant to their EEOC Charge. By doing so, they may give up valuable rights and remedies under the law. An attorney can identify the appropriate claims and the necessary information to support those claims.
- Failing to Pursue Other Claims. Some neglect to spot other available federal or state law claims not under the purview of the EEOC. Deadlines for these other claims may expire before the EEOC completes its investigation of your charge. If this happens, you will lose your legal rights under those claims forever.
- Failing to Respond to Ongoing EEOC Requests. An EEOC investigation may last for 6 months or more. During this time, an attorney serves as your legal representative to ensure key matters are addressed appropriately and promptly. Attorneys also review the employer’s written response to the EEOC Charge and draft a formal rebuttal to that response. This rebuttal provides important legal arguments to address false allegations by the employer.
- Losing Time to Prepare Your Case. At conclusion of an investigation, the EEOC generally notifies the individual that they have a right to sue the employer but must do so within just 90 days. Although this may seem like a long period of time, an attorney (not already involved with the case) may be hesitant to provide legal services to you because of this short deadline. Attorneys generally prefer to be involved from the beginning to become sufficiently familiar with the case and adequately prepare for litigation. Valuable time may be lost that an attorney could use to become familiar with your case, collect and review evidence, research legal issues, prepare your case, provide advice to you, and help you navigate challenges as they arise.
- Losing Witnesses. Witnesses often become unavailable over time or receive employer instructions to not get involved. Email and text message documentation may disappear or become difficult to obtain. An attorney can help to ensure these important sources of evidence are secured before this happens.
- Standing Alone In Settlement Negotiations. If the company engages in settlement negotiations, you will not have an expert familiar with this process to act on your behalf and protect your rights. As a consequence, it is more likely that your case will be settled with unacceptable terms.
You may be able to afford an attorney. Some hesitate to engage the services of an attorney for fear paying an hourly attorney fee they cannot afford. However, some attorneys offer a contingency fee arrangement in which the attorney receives payment only if there is a negotiated monetary settlement of the case or if the employee prevails in a trial resulting in a monetary award.
If you’re deciding whether or not to engage the services of an attorney, contact Rich Daugherty. He’ll be glad to speak with you about your case. When you contact his office, you’ll speak directly with him. You can arrange a brief phone conference at no charge.