If you believe you are the victim of employment discrimination then in most cases you need to file a complaint with the EEOC or Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division. This complaint is known as a charge of discrimination. A charge of discrimination invokes the agency’s power to investigate your claims. If they find probable cause the agency may assist you with asserting your rights against the employer.
Should I hire a Fort Worth or Dallas employment attorney first?
People considering filing a charge of discrimination often wonder whether they should talk to an employment attorney before talking to the EEOC or TWC. The investigators at the EEOC prefer you do not hire an attorney first. It makes their job easier; but that does not mean it is necessarily in your best interests. You might expect an employment lawyer to say you should hire an attorney first. There is a strategic purpose for letting an attorney assess your claims and take action before filing a charge.
How an employment attorney can help your EEOC charge of discrimination
Before any charge or other complaint is made to an investigatory agency, your attorney has the ability to leverage the option for the defendant employer to resolve the issue before any public record is created regarding the allegations of discrimination. (And before the agency begins what could be a costly EEOC or TWC investigation.) It is rare for claims to settle at this early stage; but it is an opportunity to begin a dialog with the employer’s counsel. If a settlement can occur before filing a charge, it is a one-time opportunity immediately lost after filing the charge.
Employers may be receptive to an offer to settle from a party without an attorney at this stage but usually for a very small amount of money just to get rid of you. An attorney may be able to discuss a more serious number. The employer will not have the same conversation with a pro se party that it will with an individual’s attorney.
Other employment law claims the EEOC or TWC will not investigate
You may have related claims under federal or state law that the EEOC or TWC will not investigate or prosecute. You won’t know what the range of available claims without allowing an employment lawyer to review your situation. These may include wage claims, workplace safety claims, benefit claims under ERISA, state claims of assault, defamation and so forth. Each of these claims have different statutes of limitations and different processes to litigate them. Waiting for the EEOC or TWC to first finish investigating before talking to an attorney may negatively affect your rights to prosecute claims.
If you are considering filing a charge of discrimination then contact my office so we can discuss how to approach your potential charge and the claims you may have against the employer.