Deciding whether to file a claim against your employer is a gut-wrenching experience, especially if you rely on your paycheck to survive. However, everyone has their breaking point, and usually, after speaking with an employment law attorney, employees who reach that point file their U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discrimination charge. In this post, we will discuss some of what happens next.
You can follow your case online
Since 2016, EEOC filers can follow their case mostly, if not entirely online. The first step is signing up in the EEOC Public Portal. Once registered, you will have access to your case and the associated filings, including those from the EEOC investigator. Make sure your information is correct, and keep your contact information accurate. If you have an attorney, make sure your attorney has filed a letter of representation. In addition, if you have any supporting documents for your discrimination charge, you can upload them immediately after setting up your account.
The first notifications
Within 10 days of you filing your EEOC charge, your employer will receive notice of your filing. That notice will ask for your employer to make an official response. You can respond to your employer’s response within 20 days of their submission.
Within these first few correspondences from the EEOC, the investigator will likely offer EEOC mediation. This confidential process is run by an independent and neutral mediator who is trained by the EEOC. The process can take as little as a few hours, and it has a success rate of over 70%. Most experts agree that the parties should at least try to settle the case upfront, except in egregious cases. Even if the parties cannot agree, since the process is confidential and usually relatively brief, there is not much to lose by trying to settle in most cases.
The investigation plan
If the mediation is unsuccessful, the EEOC investigator will design an investigation plan, which is dictated by the facts of the case. If the case is barred by time limits or the alleged conduct does not violate EEOC enforceable laws, then the EEOC investigator will close out the case and notify the parties of the findings. If, on the other hand, the charge is timely filed and alleges EEOC enforceable violations, then the investigator will start an investigation. This can be on-site at your employer’s office or remotely. Investigations usually last about 10 months.