In many employment discrimination cases, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the ultimate destination, since the EEOC has the ability to both mediate disputes and definitively rule for or against a party. However, what many do not realize is that the EEOC declines to become involved in a majority of the potential cases submitted for its review. If the EEOC declines to take up your case, however, this does not mean you are compelled to accept unfair or discriminatory treatment. You still have other options.
How Many Cases Does The EEOC Take On?
Rough statistics estimate that the EEOC takes on approximately 130-150 lawsuits per year, with the most recent available data listing a figure of 133 per year. Compare this to the listed figures in charge statistics numbering in the tens and hundreds of thousands submitted. Many who file charges simply do not realize that the percentage of cases taken by the EEOC is so low, but the EEOC simply lacks the staff they would require in order to process all of the claims they receive.
It is important to remember, however, that the EEOC may become involved in many more cases than those they decide to litigate. The agency actively encourages mediation and other forms of dispute resolution before the spectre of litigation is even introduced. It is also common for the EEOC to request information from both parties in order to investigate the viability of your claim, and you are entitled to much of that information even if the EEOC declines to pursue your case via litigation. The absence of litigation does not mean that any EEOC charge goes ignored.
The EEOC will generally cite one of three reasons for declining to prosecute your claim: untimeliness, irrelevance, or an inability to establish violation of the law. Untimeliness is fairly self-explanatory; the Commission has a rule that you must file your charge no later than 180 days from the date of the alleged discrimination. This time may be extended, but it is often not. A rejection on grounds of irrelevancy, in this context, means that the EEOC has determined the law you have filed the charge under does not actually apply to your case. If this occurs, you may be able to refile under a different law.
Regardless of which reasoning you are given, you may be provided with guidance on how to go forward. The Commission will generally issue you what is referred to as a ‘right to sue’ letter. This grants you permission to prosecute your case as an ordinary civil action in a regular court. Once this letter is received, the EEOC will have no further interaction with you on this particular claim.
Contact a South Carolina Employment Attorney for Help
Filing a claim against an employer is a high stress undertaking, and to do it alone is more than many can handle. Attorney A. Christopher Potts knows this field very well, and is happy to help you try to figure out the best way to obtain an equitable result for what you have experienced.
Contact our Charleston, SC law firm today to set up an appointment.