Recently, our employee’s rights lawyers have blogged about various reasons why you shouldn’t file charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) alone. (Best Law Read: Don’t File With The EEOC On Your Own; It’s Bad To File With The EEOC Without A Lawyer; Read This Before Filing An EEOC Charge).Today, we explore another example of this.
Why do I have to file with the EEOC in the first place?
Best Employment Discrimination Lawyer Answer: Under the federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”), there is a requirement that prior to filing a lawsuit, employees must “exhaust the administrative remedies.” Allowing the EEOC to investigate an employee’s claims of discrimination meets the administrative requirements under the various federal anti-discrimination laws. Only after receiving a Dismissal and Notice of Right to Sue letter from the EEOC can an employee file suit against their employer. If you don’t have a Right to Sue letter from the EEOC, your lawsuit will be immediately dismissed.
This applies to all claims for race/color, religion, gender/sex (including pregnancy and LGBTQ+ status), national origin, and disability discrimination and harassment, including wrongful termination, failure to hire, and denial of promotion claims. (Best Law Read: How Do You Win A Wrongful Termination Claim?; How Do You Prove An Unlawful Failure To Hire Claim?; Applying For A Job Is Key To Failure To Promote Claim). Additionally, retaliation claims arising out reports and opposition of such discrimination also must be reported in a charge to the EEOC. (Best Law Read: Retaliation Is Still Easier To Prove Than Discrimination; Employers Cannot Retaliate Against Spouses, Siblings, Significant Others; Can My Boss Give Me Dangerous Assignments For Reporting Discrimination?).
Why shouldn’t I file my claim with the EEOC myself?
Best Employee’s Rights Lawyer Answer: Because words matter. Because what boxes you check matters. Timing matters. It matters an awful lot. In fact, it is beyond critical. And the EEOC does not care if you do it right or wrong. The EEOC will not help you complete the charge form.
An employee is only permitted to bring claims in a lawsuit that were raised in the EEOC charge. Accordingly, there may be additional claims that are not necessarily the main focus of your complaint or are tangentially related that you may miss out on bringing without consulting an attorney. By failing to raise these additional claims in your EEOC charge, you will be barred from potential recovery from claims that may ultimately be discovered to be stronger than your original complaint.
What is an example of problems with EEOC charges?
Best EEOC Employment Attorney Answer: Let’s take a closer look at an example in the case of McHale v. McDonough, 41 F.4th 866 (7th Cir. 2022), which was recently decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Erin McHale was a pharmacy technician at the Department of Veteran Affairs. During her employment, the side effects from her diabetes medication began impacting her attendance at work. This resulted in McHale receiving a poor performance review due to her use of sick leave. Subsequently, McHale’s supervisor gave her a sick leave restriction. McHale filed a grievance with her union complaining of unfair treatment based on the sick leave restriction.
At the same time, McHale applied for a position as a Procurement Technician. The interviewers determined that they did not select McHale due to her frequent sick leave and the restriction put in place by her supervisor.
McHale filed a claim with the EEOC on her own, complaining that she was passed over for the promotion because of her sick leave restrictions and for filing a union grievance. During the EEOC investigation process, McHale never expressly disclosed that she suffered from a disability, nor that she was discriminated against because of the disability. She thought it was implied with what she wrote.
After receiving the Dismissal and Notice of Right to Sue letter from the EEOC, McHale sued her employer in federal court for disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, hostile work environment, and retaliation. Ultimately, McHale’s claims were dismissed because she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies and then was out of time to start over. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that because McHale’s EEOC complaint was about her sick leave, the complaint could not reasonably be expected to lead the investigator to discover discrimination against McHale based on a disability or failure to accommodate.
What should I do if I am discriminated against by my employer?
Best Employment Rights Law Firm Answer: The simplest answer is that you don’t want to be another Erin McHale. (Best Law Read: Why Having Skilled Employment Attorneys Is Critical).
If you are an employee who feels that you are being discriminated against, or have been wrongfully terminated, you should call the right attorney Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm as quickly as possible to schedule a free and confidential consultation. When you call the right attorney, we will schedule you for a free and confidential consultation. (Read: What is the Spitz No Fee Guarantee?) Call our lawyers in Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Toledo and Cincinnati, and Raleigh to get help now. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and its experienced attorneys are dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
This employment discrimination law website is an advertisement. The materials available at the top of this wrongful termination page and at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice about race, gender, disability or age discrimination. If you are still Googling, “How do I start a claim for disability discrimination after my job refused to give me a work accommodation?”, “What should I do if I was wrongfully fired today because my boss is racist?,” “My supervisor refuses to promote Black workers,” or “How do I complete a EEOC charge form?”, it would be best for to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular employment law issue or problem. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.