Irvine EEOC Lawyer
There are a number of federal laws that forbid discrimination in employment based on various traits and characteristics, such as race, sex, age, religion, and pregnancy. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the agency charged with enforcing these laws at the federal level. As part of this mandate, the EEOC is required to investigate discrimination complaints filed by employees.
In most employment discrimination cases, a person must file a complaint with either the EEOC or its California state counterpart, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), before they can take any individual legal action against an employer. An experienced Irvine EEOC lawyer can walk you through this process and provide you with independent legal advice on how to proceed should the government decide not to pursue your complaint beyond the investigation stage. At The Garza Firm, we represent many clients throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties who have experienced discrimination in the workplace but are unfamiliar with how to deal with the EEOC.
How the EEOC Complaint Process Works
The first thing to note about EEOC complaints is that the agency does not have jurisdiction over every employer. In most cases a business must have at least 15 employees to be covered under federal civil rights laws. California has a lower threshold of just five employees. So if you work for a very small business, you may need to file a complaint with the DFEH instead of the EEOC.
There is also a time limit to file a complaint with the EEOC. Normally you must act within 180 days from when the alleged act of illegal workplace discrimination occurred. This deadline can be extended to 300 days, however, if California enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis as the allegations in your complaint. Keep in mind, these deadlines are usually not extended just because you attempt to negotiate a settlement with your employer before going to the EEOC.
Once the EEOC receives your complaint, the agency will conduct an investigation. An EEOC official will usually take your statement, interview other witnesses, and consider any supporting evidence presented by you and your employer. The EEOC will then attempt to mediate a resolution between you and your employer.
If mediation fails, the EEOC can either decide to take legal action directly against your employer or issue you a “right to sue” letter. The latter is more common. Basically, this means that you are free to file your own employment discrimination lawsuit within 90 days of receiving the letter. It should be noted that there are two situations where you do not need such a letter–neither the Equal Pay Act nor the Age Discrimination in Employment Act requires pre-clearance from the EEOC before a plaintiff may sue.
Contact The Garza Firm Today
While you do not need a lawyer to file an EEOC complaint, it is still a good idea to have one. The EEOC cannot offer you legal advice on how to sue your employer. And given the 90-day deadline to take action after receiving a “right to sue” letter, it is in your best interest to be represented by a qualified Irvine EEOC lawyer throughout the agency’s investigative process. So if you have been the victim of discrimination in the workplace and need to speak with someone, contact The Garza Firm today to schedule a free initial consultation.