Many times potential clients ask me whether it is necessary to hire a lawyer to file a complaint or charge with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). While having an attorney involved during the EEOC process is not necessary, in many circumstances, meeting with and retaining an experienced employment lawyer prior to filing your EEOC charge is a very good idea.
While an EEOC charge is not a very complicated legal document, preparing a factual summary that supports your legal claims can be difficult. First, you must ensure that you are identifying all of the claims you may have because you cannot later file a lawsuit for a claim you omitted from your EEOC charge. The EEOC offices in the State of Alabama get hundred of charges each year, so you also must state your case and identify supporting documents in a manner that catches the investigator’s attention and aids in his or her investigation.
There will likely be a lawyer for the company preparing an Opposition to your charge once its filed and you will need to be able to respond to the legal arguments in your rebuttal. There may also be a mediation where the parties meet in attempt to state their cases to a neutral third party and attempt to reach a resolution by settlement. Again, this process can be handled without an attorney, but you will be at a distinct disadvantage without the proper training or prior experience.
Finally, once the EEOC process is completed you will have only 90 days to file a lawsuit in Federal Court to pursue your claims. If you have already retained an attorney prior to filing your charge, you are likely in a better position to litigate your case and move forward with your claims.
If you are an Alabama resident that is considering filing an EEOC charge against your employer or former employer, please contact me at (205) 588-0699 for a free consultation.