When people experience workplace discrimination based on their protected characteristics in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, they can file discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces federal anti-discrimination laws. When it receives a discrimination charge, the agency will investigate to determine whether discrimination occurred. If the agency determines that discrimination likely occurred, it will issue a written determination and invite the parties to participate in conciliation discussions. If these discussions are unsuccessful, either the EEOC or the victim of discrimination can file a lawsuit. The employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler can help people file complaints in federal court when the EEOC finds that their employers are guilty of discrimination. If the EEOC determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred, a written determination and invitation to enter into conciliation discussions are issued to the parties. If conciliation efforts are not successful, the EEOC and/or the charging party may bring suit.
What does the EEOC do when a local FEPA secures a settlement from an employer?
Most discrimination charges are filed under both federal and state law. Discrimination charges that are filed with the state are handled by a fair employment practices agency or FEPA. When a FEPA secures a settlement agreement from the employer and the victim, both the EEOC and the FEPA will close their case files. The EEOC will send a separate notice of dismissal. This signifies that the EEOC accepts the resolution reached by the FEPA and has closed its file.
How the EEOC resolves discrimination charges
After a discrimination charge is filed with the EEOC, the agency will investigate the allegations. If the agency finds that the evidence does not support the claim of discrimination, the EEOC will explain its finding to the person who filed the charge. It will issue a notice to close the case, and the charging party will then be given leave to file a lawsuit within 90 days.
If the EEOC finds evidence to support the claim of discrimination, the agency will notify the charging party and the employer in a determination letter. It will then try conciliation with the employer to try to reach a remedy. If the case is complicated, settled, or mediated, the charging party and the EEOC will not be able to file a lawsuit unless the employer fails to honor the settlement agreement, mediation, or conciliation.
When the EEOC cannot conciliate the charge, it will decide whether to file a lawsuit in court on behalf of the charging party. If it decides against filing a lawsuit, it will send a notice to the charging party and close the case. The charging party will then have 90 days to file a lawsuit against the employer.
When people can file lawsuits for employment discrimination
Charging parties are allowed to file lawsuits against their employers within 90 days of receiving the EEOC’s notice of their right to sue. For discrimination charges that are filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, charging parties can ask for a notice of the right to sue from the EEOC 180 days after they first filed the charges with the EEOC. They will then be allowed to file a lawsuit within 90 days of receiving the notice the right to sue. Charges that are filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act allow the charging parties to file lawsuits 60 days after the charges have been filed. They cannot be filed any later than 90 days after the agency has notified the charging parties that the EEOC has completed its action. For the Equal Pay Act claims, lawsuits have to be filed within two years of the discrimination. However, willful violations have a deadline of three years.
Available remedies when an employer is found guilty of discrimination
When an employer is found guilty of discrimination, the employee may benefit from the following remedies:
- Getting the position for which the person was wrongly denied
- Receiving back pay
- Gaining a promotion
- Being reinstated to a job after a wrongful termination
- Receiving front pay
- Receiving reasonable accommodations
- Other remedies that will make the individual whole
- Attorneys’ fees
- Court costs
- Expert witness fees
Under most laws that are enforced by the EEOC, compensatory and punitive damages might be available in cases involving intentional discrimination. These damages might compensate the victims for their pecuniary losses and their noneconomic damages, including inconvenience and mental anguish. Punitive damages may be available in cases in which an employer acted out of malice or with reckless indifference. If the employer is a local, state, or federal governmental agency, punitive damages will not be available. In ADA claims about reasonable accommodations, compensatory and punitive damages may not be available if the employers can show that they made good faith efforts to provide reasonable accommodations.
After an employer is found guilty of discrimination, it may be required to post notices in the workplace for all employees to address how it violated the anti-discrimination law and to explain the rights the employees have against discrimination and retaliation. These notices also must be accessible to employees who have disabilities that impact their abilities to read the notices. The court may also require the employer to take corrective actions and to reduce the chance that discrimination will occur again. Finally, the employer may be told to end discriminatory policies and practices.
Get help from an employment discrimination lawyer at Swartz Swidler
The attorneys at Swartz Swidler help people who have been discriminated against at their jobs based on their protected characteristics. If you believe that your employer has engaged in illegal discrimination, our lawyers can help to guide you through the process with the EEOC or the FEPA. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation by calling us at 856.685.7420.