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Discrimination in the Workplace: To Settle or Not to Settle

There are several reasons why it may not be in your best interest to bring your employment discrimination claim to trial. However, this does not necessarily mean that you should accept the first settlement offer the insurance company may tender. There are factors that you should consider in terms of your rights going forward that may affect your interest or ability to accept a settlement offer for your discrimination suit.

Downsides of Litigation for your Workplace Discrimination Suit

Even if a claim is valid and you believe you have grounds to allege actual discrimination, there may be significant disadvantages to pursuing litigation to the end. For an employer, it can eat up company profits that they might otherwise allocate to compensation or improvements in infrastructure. Another disadvantage is the cost, mental energy and knowledge required of the defendant who likely has no experience defending a case. Many employees are often shut out from pursuing litigation simply due to a lack of finances or experience. For this reason, it is much more common for managers and higher-up workers to allege harassment. Litigation also has the added potential cost of time, for both parties. An employee in particular is usually impatient to have a matter like alleged discrimination handled quickly, especially since pursuing a lawsuit may impact their ability to obtain a new job.

Another noticeable negative for employees pursuing discrimination lawsuits is the apparent federal court bias against such cases, at least in recent years. The win rate for civil suits in most other areas of law is approximately half, if one examines data from the last two decades, but in discrimination cases the percentage drops to approximately 15 percent. With such a low success rate, many attorneys seem to see no point in even bringing suit.

Advantages to Settling your Workplace Discrimination Case

Given so many negatives, it is perhaps surprising that more employers do not settle more cases. This can be explained in part by the deeply personal nature of many discrimination cases or by a general certainty that court proceedings often favor the employer. It is not likely that an average jury will immediately sympathize with an employee if the alleged mistreatment is not overt—and some jurors may even sympathize if the mistreatment is overt, depending on their own personal biases.

A caveat to keep in mind, however, is that if your case is a candidate for alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration or mediation, you may be less inclined to want to settle even if your employer (or their insurance company) offers to do so. Arbitration in particular has been promoted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as a quality alternative to time-consuming litigation, assuming that the process used is fair and equitable. In a controlled setting such as arbitration, a mistreated employee may have a better chance at asserting a pattern of inequitable behavior, especially if the discrimination they experienced was more subtle and less visible to a lay juror.

Get Help from a South Carolina Workplace Discrimination Attorney

Discrimination in the workplace is an evil that should not be tolerated. If it has happened to you, having a knowledgeable South Carolina workplace discrimination attorney on your side can help you get through the process. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has years of experience in workplace discrimination cases.

Contact his Charleston firm today for a free consultation on your case.


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