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Is the EEOC liable for wrongfully issued right-to-sue

Ridgewood, NJ |

A group of disgruntled employees filed EEOC complaints about my business and were ultimately issued right-to-sue notices from the EEOC. The notices included a statement saying that "all requirements had been met".

The problem is that my business had not been in business for the required 20 weeks in any calendar year, so it's not subject to Title VII, and the claimants don't have a right-to-sue under Title VII.

The claimants sued anyway and the Title VII claim was dismissed via summary judgment. However, there were other parts of the lawsuit dependent on the invalid Title VII claim that the business (and me personally) was hit for, as well as the legal fees we expended and continue to expend. We are appealing the case now.

Is the EEOC somehow liable for the obvious mistake?

Attorney Answers 2


As a general proposition, no. However, you really need to ask your attorneys about this since they have the most intimate knowledge of your case. At this stage, any other response would be an irresponsible guess.

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The short answer would be "probably" not. As a prevailing party under Title VII, you can try to seek attorneys fees from the plaintiff. The way I read this, the attorneys for the business probably tried to get those fees and failed. Frankly, that's not uncommon. I have rarely seen a company awarded attorneys fees in an employment discrimination action. That's because the employer has to show that the action was frivolous, unreasonable or without foundation.

The "right-to-sue" is really a misnomer. All it really means is that the plaintiff has exhausted administrative remedies by first going through the EEOC. The EEOC rarely litigates cases and often will issue a "right-to-sue" letter at the request of the plaintiff.

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