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A right to sue letter is given to everyone - If good cause has been determined and set for conciliation, how's it any different?

Scottsdale, AZ |

I received a determination letter from EEOC stating there's good cause to believe that I was discriminated against by my employer. If my employer refuses to participate the EEOC can either go to court for me or give me a right to sue letter -- the right to sue letter is given to those who don't even have a case -- everyone gets one. I view it as a way for EEOC to be done with my case (2010) once and for all. If my civil rights were violated, aren't they worth anything?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Unfortunately, like many government agencies, the EEOC does not have the resources that would allow them to litigate on behalf of every employee, even where they have determined just cause exists.

    Your just cause determination is admissible in litigation in the 9th circuit, a piece of evidence that carries more weight than a simple right to sue letter. That determination of cause makes your bargaining position stronger in conciliation proceedings, and your employer would thus be wise to enter into this process with you... litigation could be costly for them and a cause determination should make them unsure of their likelihood of succeeding at trial.

    It is unclear from your question how much you have lost because of the discrimination. If you do go to conciliation, you should consider hiring an attorney to represent you during the negotiations, although it is not absolutely necessary. If your employer does not want to negotiate a settlement, you should also contact an attorney to discuss the value of your case, the likelihood of success should you litigate, and to discuss whether your case could be taken on a contingency fee basis.

    Above all, make sure you are aware of (and calendar) any deadlines you have regarding your claim.

  2. A "cause" finding from the EEOC isn't worth much. If the EEOC decides to file a complaint on your behalf, then that's worth something. But, a cause finding is perhaps a nice piece of evidence if your case gets to trial (assuming that you can get the judge to let it into evidence), but it doesn't prove anything. However, with a cause finding in hand, you can probably get an experienced employment lawyer to give you a free consultation about your case, and that's what I encourage you to do. Good luck.

    My answers to questions posted on AVVO are intended to provide general information only, and are not intended to be legal advice. Employment law issues typically require a careful case-by-case analysis. Consequently, if you feel that you need legal advice, I would encourage you to consult in person with an employment attorney in your area.

  3. Your cause finding does have value. First, employment attorneys are generally more interested in representing employees who have a reasonable cause determination. Second, in federal court in Arizona, the cause finding is admissible evidence which a fact finder (whether a court or a jury) can consider in determining whether or not your employer violated federal laws against discrimination, harassment or retaliation. I recently tried a pregnancy discrimination in federal court in Phoenix for a client that had a reasonable cause determination and argued that the jury, like the EEOC, should conclude that it was more likely than not that the employer had unlawfully discriminated against my client. The jury ultimately found in her favor and I believe that the reasonable cause determination was helpful in getting the favorable verdict.

  4. The EEOC does not offer conciliation to every charging party who receives a right to sue letter. However, once the EEOC investigates and issues a Letter of Determination (also called a "cause" finding), it invites the charging party and the respondent to participate in conciliation. If you only received a right to sue letter with no cause finding, you would not have the option of conciliation.

    Conciliation is voluntary, so both you and the employer must agree to participate. The conciliation is an opportunity for you to resolve your discrimination claim(s) before filing a lawsuit. I would urge you to consult an employment attorney to assess your case.