EEOC sets maximum remedies for employment discrimination. For instance, limits on compensatory & punitive damages are $200,000 for employers with 201 to 200 employees and $300,000 for employers with 500+ employees. It is said that in EEOC mediation an employer would never agree to settle for the maximum. Several lawyers who have reviewed evidences of my employment discrimination case say that I have a solid case and if it goes to court it could possibly win over a million. If I go through EEOC mediation, is it likely for the employer to agree to pay close to the maximum allowed? If not, is 80%-90% possible? Has any attorney experienced any EEOC mediation where the employer settled for 80%-100% of the maximum/limit?
* * I am not licensed to practice law in your state. The following is information only. I am answering as if you were a California employee with a California legal issue. * *
The damages caps are not EEOC caps. The are in the statute -- the Civil Right Act of 1964, Title VII 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e—17. The same caps apply in cases under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. sections 12101 et seq. (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, 42 U.S.C. § 2000ff, et seq.(GINA).
Because the caps are statutory, they will apply in court litigation just as they will apply in the EEOC administrative process. Certain elements of damages are not included in the cap: back pay, punitive damages, attorney's fees, and costs of suit can be in addition to the statutory caps.
It is nearly always the case that a plaintiff will do a lot better with a competent employment attorney as opposed to a plaintiff who represents him- or herself. If you case is as valuable as you say, you are much better off with an attorney than on your own.
All that said, I am dubious that the attorneys you've spoken to have been able to provide you with an accurate assessment. The EEOC instituted Priority Case Handling Procedures (PCHP) by which cases are categorized as A , B or C cases. A cases are the strongest. They are cases where discrimination appears likely. Other A cases are those that involve an issue the EEOC wants to deal with, or involve a lot of people or multiple charges against the same employer, or policy issues.
A1 cases are A cases that the EEOC identifies as appropriate for litigation.
A2 cases are A cases that are not appropriate for litigation, most often because the employer is a public agency and the EEOC is prohibited from litigating against a public agency.
C are cases for which the EEOC does not have jurisdiction (power) over. C cases are those where the time limit to file is passed, the charging party provided self-defeating information, there is no employer-employee relationship, or it isn't an issue the EEOC deals with.
B cases are everything else and typically require further investigation.
B— (B minus) cases are B cases that look doubtful, but just might have something to them.
Unless the attorneys you spoke with spent considerable time analyzing your case -- and I mean days and days, not minutes or even hours -- it is hard to see how they would have had enough information to tell you the value of your case. And if the case was so conspicuously strong that these attorneys could see this, then the EEOC would be able to see this, too, and your case would be an A case. A cases are rarely sent to mediation, unless they involve a public employer.
In many jurisdictions, it is risky for an attorney to tell a client or potential client what his or her case is “worth.” The result of a case is dependent on so many factors that most ethical attorneys will not take a chance in suggesting a possible result, and will only suggest a possible range if everything goes perfectly — which it never does. Case value fluctuates with the judge assigned to the case, opposing counsel, financial resources available, time resources available, the political climate, the economy, and more.
Finally, EEOC mediations usually involve cases with a fairly low value for a variety of reasons, the main one being that valuable cases will do better if the plaintiff is represented by counsel, and everyone knows this.
Short answer: I urge you to find competent, experienced employment counsel to represent you. You can find a list of plaintiffs employment attorneys in your area at www.nela.org.
There are also state and local laws that do not have caps on damages so where you referred to the fact that you have been told that you have a case that could possibly win over 1 million, that may be in reliance on your succeeding in prevailing under other laws. You should find out exactly what claims you have filed in court.
The EEOC maximum is largely unimportant, defense counsel for employers will base their decisions upon the actual risk to their client, not the capped risk their client is experiencing in the EEOC currently.
That being said, it is of course impossible for me to gauge the likely highest offer you may experience accurately at this stage of the process and with the information I have.
Cases are in general more valuable once they have progressed to Federal Litigation.
Attorneys on AVVO cannot give a poster odds or percentage of possibilities. It is necessary for an attorney to examine the complete facts of a discrimination claim to be able to provide a legal opinion. My suggestion si to search for an experienced employment discrimination attorney who you feel comfortable working with and retain her/his legal services if you wish to have an attorney assist you in your case.
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