If an employee has been discriminated, harassed or subjected to retaliation in the workplace, one of the first steps they should take is to complain and notify their employer. This can be done by complaining to human resources, a direct supervisor or anyone in a supervisory position. Once the employer is put on notice of the employees complaints, they have a duty to put an end to whatever wrongful actions the employee is complaining about.
Although the employer has a legal duty to investigate and stop the wrongful actions, many fail to do so. Fortunately, the law has put in place several different steps an employee can take when their supervisor or human resources manager fails to take their complaints seriously.
Filing A Claim With the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The Equal Employment is a federal agency is that is responsible for ensuring that employment laws throughout the country are properly enforced. The EEOC was created in 1964 as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The legislation protected individuals of these groups and sought to have the live free of discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age and disability. It was a landmark legislation that changed the scene for groups who were historically discriminated against.
If requested, the EEOC will take the necessary steps to conduct an independent investigation into the complainant’s accusations. The EEOC will do so on the employee’s behalf and provide the employee with written documentation regarding the outcome of their investigation.
It is important to note that the laws the EEOC is charged with enforcing are only applicable to employers with fifteen or more employees. Nonetheless, most states have their own administrative agencies that enforce similar laws. In California, that agency is known as the Department of Fair Housing and Employment (“DFEH”). The DFEH is charged with enforcing similar laws but unlike the EEOC, the DFEH will investigate claims regarding employers with more than five employees.
Both the EEOC and the DFEH, will begin their investigations once an employee files an administrative charge through their offices. It is important to note that the agencies may contact your employer or co-workers. Further, their officers may make site visits to the workplace and conduct witness interviews. The length of an investigation depends on the complexity of the investigation, the size of the employer and the parties’ willingness to be cooperative in the investigation.
Once the has concluded their investigation they will make a determination as whether employer has violated any legal duties they have to the employee. The employee can choose whether they want the agency to pursue the legal or whether they would like to retain outside counsel. When choosing the later, the agency will issue the employee with a Right to Sue notice, which allows the employee to move forward with any legal in civil court.
An employee seeking to take legal action against an employer must file a claim with the EEOC or equivalent state agency prior to filing a law suit. If the employee skips this vital step, there lawsuit is likely to be thrown out of court and the employee may be barred from pursing, indefinitely. Furthermore, an employee should be aware of the timing surrounding a potential lawsuit. Legal claims come with time restrictions, known as the statute of limitations. If an employee fails to bring a claim within the require time limit, they will be barred from pursuing the case.
If you feel as though your employer has failed to address your complaints seriously, then you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in labor law immediately. The laws governing harassment and discrimination are complex. There are strict regulations governing the process for filing a lawsuit. Furthermore, there are strict time restrictions, known as statute of limitations, as to when a lawsuit can be filed. The experienced attorneys at Shegerian Conniff are ready to hold your employer accountable, fight for your legal rights, and seek justice. Click here to contact us today or call us at 310-322-7500 for a free consultation.