is it reasonable to ask for back pay, front pay, and liquidated damages. According to the letter received from EEOC the company was found to have a history of willful disregard for age discrimination statutes.
It seems fair to assume that this company, with its history of dealing with the EEOC, will be well represented. Whether or not you plan to have counsel with you at this conciliation, I suggest that you speak with an employment attorney in preparation for the conciliation, to talk about what you can expect, and what a fair settlement amount might be. Give yourself every advantage that you can.
A claimant under the ADEA can recover reimbursement for lost wages and front pay can be available in certain limited circumstances. A claimant cannot recover damages for pain and suffering. In cases of willful violations, a claimant might be able to obtain "liquidated damages," which in effect multiplies the recover by two. Finally, you can also recover attorney fees in bringing a lawsuit.
From what you have posted, it sounds like it is reasonable to ask for back pay, front pay, and liquidated damages.
I hope this answer provided some helpful guidance. If not, I am happy to answer follow up questions.
I am a California attorney and cannot give legal advice in your state. My comments are information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT OFFER SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION. If I mention your state’s laws, it only means I did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant. You MUST check with an attorney licensed in your state to learn your rights.
In nearly every case that goes to mediation or conciliation, you need your own attorney. The EEOC is not your representative. A mediator/conciliator for the EE has one client – the United States of America. Some EEOC representatives are great and will do their best to protect you rights even though they are not your advocate. Some EEOC representatives stink and care more about closing the case than they care about your rights.
Because the EEOC has a particular mission and because it is not representing you, if it turns out your interests and those of the EEOC clash, the EEOC rep will first and foremost make sure the agency’s goals are carried out, not yours.
Also, the EEOC will only consider issues relevant to laws the EEOC enforces, such as discrimination laws. It will not consider such things as employer liability under state law (which in some states may be substantially more than under federal law), wage and hour violations, mutuality in the settlement agreement, circumstances under which you might have to return the money, the language of the settlement agreement (which could have all kinds of "gotchas" that the EEOC doesn't notice or doesn't deal with), and more.
In addition, EEOC conciliators and mediators most often handle low-value cases because that is what ends up in their offices. They handle high-value cases far less frequently, and even less frequently handle high-value cases where the charging party doesn’t have an attorney. If you show up without an attorney, the representative may interpret your case as low-value, even if it isn’t. Of course the representative may learn the value of your case during the mediation, but why start off with such a large obstacle?
Similarly, without an attorney, the employer probably won't take you or your case seriously, and may be able to take advantage of you. No one is watching your back if you don't have your own attorney.
Consider that the employer most likely has an attorney or has consulted with its attorney. Even if the employer doesn't have an attorney, it usually has human resources personnel who have been down this route before and know far better than you do how to use the system to its own advantage.
It is nearly always the case that a charging party will do better overall with an attorney, even taking into consideration the attorney's fees portion of the recovery.
Employment law is complicated and fact specific. You may wish to speak with an experienced plaintiffs employment attorney.
You can find a plaintiffs employment attorney on the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) web site www.nela.org. NELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the country for attorneys representing working people. You can search by location and practice area. Also, NELA has affiliates in every state and many cities which are listed on the NELA site. Not all NELA attorneys are named on the web site or affiliate site. This should not influence your selection; attorneys can choose whether or not to purchase a listing in the national directory, and each affiliate has its own rules for listing.
I hope there is a good resolution to this situation.
When an employer is inclined to make an early offer and to try to settle a claim in advance of and without expensive, time-consuming, and risky legal process, the employer inevitably expects to accomplish that result for less than the claimant might have obtained by full-out legal process. You have asked whether it is "reasonable to ask" for the full Monty. No reason not to ask, in most circumstances. But if you are asking whether it is reasonable to EXPECT to achieve a settlement that is the virtual maximum, the answer would be very different.
One of the very critical utilities of skilled and experienced legal counsel is in developing realistic and probable expectations. Defining success, and establishing the range of the definition of success in a particular matter, is a high skill and inevitably beyond the capabilities of a pro per with no reference points.
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