What you need to do and when
Filing a lawsuit against your employer can be a daunting process, especially if you’ve never had to navigate the legal system before. If you’re like a lot of people, you’re probably going to spend some time doing Internet research before you pick up the phone to call an attorney.
While being informed is a great impulse, it’s also important to realize that the sooner you speak to an attorney, the more likely your complaint is going to come out to a successful conclusion.
You may thinking, “Well, sure … you’re attorneys so of course you’re going to say that.”
But the truth of the matter is that if you’re even considering filing a lawsuit against your employer, everything you say and do from that moment on can potentially be included in the suit. Creating a consistent and legally sound narrative from the beginning can be a significant advantage when facing off against an employer – especially if that employer has deep pockets.
Let’s talk about what steps you need to take if you believe that you’ve been subjected to unlawful behavior or practices. While it’s important to acknowledge that every situation is unique, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind if you feel that you’ve been subjected to discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage theft, or other unlawful activity.
Write It Down
If you’re considering suing your employer, the first thing you should do is start documenting everything. Jot down any relevant information you can remember that pertains to the situation. Fill in dates or approximate dates as much as possible. In incidents of sexual harassment or discrimination, note any names of people who may have witnessed the situation. You should also note any people you may have discussed the matter with – whether in conversation or in official complaints.
Many people are surprised to learn that personal documentation can sometimes be of relevance in court, so this step is very important.
Also, be sure to keep any photos, emails, pictures, or other documents that may pertain to your complaint.
File a Complaint with the EEOC
Before proceeding with some types of lawsuits, you may need to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). That is the federal agency that is charged with enforcing anti-discrimination laws.
If you work for a private employer, you must file a complaint with the EEOC for allegations of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, genetic information, or retaliation.
If you believe that your rights under the Equal Pay Act have been violated, you are not required to file with the EEOC before proceeding with a lawsuit.
It’s probably no surprise that dealing with a governmental agency can be confusing and frustrating. Consulting with an attorney before going to the EEOC can save a lot of confusion and headaches.
However, there’s another very important reason to speak to an attorney first: Your EEOC complaint may be the first time you’re telling your version of events in an official way. These documents may eventually create the framework for your lawsuit. This is your opportunity to begin laying the groundwork for your lawsuit if your employer fails to remedy the situation.
State and Local Laws May Apply
It’s also important to remember that many states and municipalities also have their own laws that cover worker rights. For example, New Jersey and Philadelphia have their own laws governing pregnancy discrimination (although Pennsylvania does not).
Working with an attorney who’s licensed to practice in your state may allow you to simultaneously pursue claims under federal, state, and municipal laws.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
If you believe that you’ve been subjected to unlawful treatment or practices at work, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney right away.
Email us at email@example.com, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.