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How Can a Private Attorney Help Pursue an Employment Discrimination Claim?

 Posted on February 21, 2019 in Workplace Discrimination

Allegheny County workplace discrimination lawyer EEOC claimWhen you file a workplace discrimination claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), this organization will investigate your complaint to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support your claim. If so, the EEOC will file charges against the employer and attempt to settle the case through its conciliation process. 

If the employer refuses to settle your case through conciliation, only then will the EEOC consider filing a federal court lawsuit against that employer. However, the EEOC is not required to pursue your case in court. In fact, the EEOC only pursues litigation in a small percentage of the cases where it finds sufficient evidence of discrimination and fails to resolve the case through conciliation. In making this determination, the EEOC considers factors such as the seriousness of the violation, the specific legal issues involved, and the extent to which a court ruling on the case would advance the agency’s wider efforts to reduce and prevent workplace discrimination. 

The Benefits of Engaging a Private Attorney for Your Pittsburgh Workplace Discrimination Case

You will find it valuable to consult a private attorney about your case even before you file a workplace discrimination complaint with the federal EEOC or the corresponding state agency, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC). 

A private attorney can do several important things for you above and beyond what the EEOC can do, including:

  • File a claim of employment discrimination in state court, as opposed to federal court, on the basis that the employer broke a state law. In Pennsylvania, the governing law is the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA). A private attorney can explain the differences between the state and federal discrimination laws and the potential benefits of filing a claim under Pennsylvania state law.
  • File a state or federal employment discrimination lawsuit even if the EEOC chooses not to litigate your case. 
  • Settle your case more quickly than the EEOC, in some cases. 

While the EEOC process is free to the complainant, it can also take a very long time. In one recent case, the EEOC first filed charges against an employer in July 2013. Because the complainant was an undocumented worker, the EEOC could not fully investigate the complaint until it obtained a federal court ruling in April 2016 confirming that the EEOC had the authority to investigate claims on behalf of undocumented workers. After the employer refused to resolve the case through conciliation, the EEOC filed a lawsuit in federal court in August 2017. The court case was resolved in favor of the complainant in December 2018, more than a year after the lawsuit was first filed and more than five years after the original charges were filed. 

You should be aware that there are some constraints on how quickly even a private attorney can file a lawsuit. You are legally required to go through the process of filing an administrative complaint, and you must allow the EEOC or the corresponding state agency to attempt to settle your case through conciliation before any lawsuits can be filed. 

That said, in some cases, an employer may be anxious to resolve a discrimination complaint directly with a complainant rather than go through a lengthy process with a government agency. In such cases, a private attorney may be able to obtain a settlement for you even before the EEOC finishes its administrative procedures.

Contact an Allegheny County Workplace Discrimination Claims Lawyer

If you believe that an employer has discriminated against you on the basis of your race or sex, consult a knowledgeable Pittsburgh EEOC discrimination claims attorney. Call our Wexford office at 412-680-7877 for a free initial consultation. We serve clients throughout Allegheny County and the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.



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