The EEOC closed my case without investigating. The EEOC never interviewed me or the employer. The EEOC never interviewed a single one of my 15 witnesses. The EEOC never called me discuss the case. They just closed my case, and lied and said that they did investigate. However, they never did. They also never offered mediation.
Can somebody please cite me a federal law or opinion that says the EEOC must at least offer mediation? And can somebody please cite me a federal law or opinion that says the EEOC must investigate?
I showed the EEOC C.F.R. 1601.15 that says that an investigation shall be made by the EEOC, but the EEOC said that they don't have to investigate even after I showed them C.F.R 1601.15.
Many employees are burdened by the incorrect assumption that the EEOC works for the employee. The EEOC is an independent government organization that answers to the government. The EEOC is overburdened by too much work. For every case the EEOC litigates, 99 cases have been rejected by the agency. I have had several clients tell me that the EEOC lost all their paperwork. One client said the EEOC lost her paperwork more than once.
You live in California, a place with state law protections (FEHA) that in many cases likely exceed the protection of federal laws. Unless you work for the feds, you have a right to proceed under state law. I am not familiar with whether there are administrative exhaustion requirements for state law cases because I don't practice law in california. However, I can tell you this. In states where there are many well qualified plaintiff-side employment lawyers, the role of the EEOC is not as important because the plaintiffs have a way to achieve justice without eeoc. If I were you, I would take advantage of one of the many plaintiff-side employment lawyers who offer free consultations to get advice. Don't get worked up about whether the eeoc is doing its job, remember, eeoc does not work for you. Instead, help yourself by getting a private lawyer to go over the facts of your case. Good luck.
The EEOC does not offer mediation, you have to request it. Then the EEOC will ask the employer if they will agree to attend mediation. If the employer agrees, the EEOC will schedule the mediation and pay the mediator. It is a great opportunity to get an early free mediation. You will have better luck at settlement if you hire an attorney to prepare your mediation brief and attend the mediation with you.
I completely agree with Ms. Foster. She would probably be a fine attorney to contact. I write only to add that the EEOC was correct, and that you've misread the regulations. 29 CFR 1601.15 does not require the EEOC to investigate your charge. It says only that if a charge is filed, it is within the EEOC's authority to investigate. Look at 29 CFR 1601.18, and you will see that the EEOC has many options about how to handle a charge, including simply dismissing it. Also, Ms. Barron is correct: no law requires the EEOC to offer mediation.
This is why you need an attorney. Plaintiff's side employment attorneys are well-versed in reading these regulations, and, while it may sound impolitic, you are not. Call either Ms. Foster or Ms. Barron, and see if they'll offer you an appointment. If, after evaluating your case, both of them decide not to take it, you will have additional information from two well-versed attorneys.
Good luck to you.
Craig T. Byrnes
This answer is primarily to explain the EEOC mediation process and correct any contrary information.
The EEOC absolutely does offers mediation; it even promotes mediation. However, it only does this for some cases. And the EEOC will not mediate any other cases. Requesting mediation will not affect EEOC policy on this.
The EEOC instituted Priority Case Handling Procedures (PCHP) by which cases are categorized as A , B or C cases. Cases designated with an A 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 cases are those 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 do not involve 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.
The only cases for which the EEOC will offer mediation are B cases. A cases are investigated. C cases are closed.
As Ms. Foster stated, the EEOC is terribly overworked. Its funding has been slashed dramatically at the same time its workload has skyrocketed due to the economic climate. It is very common for cases to languish in the investigation section for two years before much happens. It isn't that the EEOC does this intentionally. The fault is with Congress, which has not appropriated enough money for the EEOC to come anywhere close to doing its job.
You should take the good advice you have received here and consult with one or more experienced employment law attorneys with whom you can discuss the details of your situation. To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.cela.org. Click on "Find a CELA Member" and you can search by location and practice area. Many CELA attorneys represent clients throughout the state.
If you are having trouble finding an attorney for your case, there are several possibilities:
-- you are not looking in the right place for the right kind of attorney;
-- your case does not have as much value as you think; or
-- you are not presenting your case in a way that makes sense to the attorneys.
Employment attorneys want certain information right up front: the name of the defendant, the name of the employee; if the employee was fired (or denied reasonable accommodation, or laid off, or whatever the issue is, in five words or less); the date this happened; the reason the employer gave for whatever happened; how long the employee worked for the defendant; what job the employee did; how much the employee made; and any deadline.
Employment rights come from the state and federal legislatures. One of the best things people can do to improve their employment rights is vote for candidates with a good record on pro-employee, anti-corporate legislation. Another way to protect employment rights is to form or affiliate with a union, or participate in a union already in place.
I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.
You don't need the EEOC to do anything other than issue you a right to sue letter -- on demand. But what you do need is a skilled and experienced employment attorney. There is no reason not to have expert legal assistance. Most employment attorneys will consult initially at no or low cost and if your case is sound, you may be offered representation on a contingent fee basis.
You can find great employment attorneys at www.cela.org
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