The agency may prosecute the case itself or issue a Right to Sue letter.
Throughout the country, most employees are at-will, which means that they can be fired for any legal, non-discriminatory reason. If you are not in a union and do not have an employment contract, you are likely an at-will employee. As a general rule, your employer can fire you for almost any reason — just as you can quit your job at any time for any reason. Nevertheless, even as an at-will employee, you still have certain rights under both state and federal law.
As a skilled wrongful termination attorney can explain, it is illegal under federal law to fire an employee on the basis of certain protected characteristics. This includes race, sex, age, disability, and national origin. Some states, including California, protect other characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
If an employer fires an employee on the basis of a protected characteristic, then he or she may have a wrongful termination claim. While many workers may assume that they can simply file a lawsuit against their employer in court, the process is more complex. To start a claim, an employee generally needs to file a claim with either a state agency or with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). A seasoned wrongful termination attorney can assist with evaluating a claim and determine where and how it should be filed.
After a claim is filed, the charge will be sent to the employer. In many cases, the EEOC may ask both the employer and the employee if they want to mediate the claim. If the parties do not agree to a mediation or if they cannot reach a settlement, then the EEOC will investigate the charge. The EEOC will ask the employer for its response to the charge. The employee will then have an opportunity to respond. Based on its investigation, the EEOC will either prosecute the case on behalf of the employee, or issue a Notice of Right to Sue letter to the employee. Only after receiving the Right to Sue letter can the employee file a lawsuit in court.
There are strict deadlines that must be followed in order to file a case with the EEOC or a state employment agency. Working with a wrongful termination attorney can make sure that you meet those deadlines, and that you comply with the rules regarding the appropriate form of your complaint. A lawyer can also make sure that your claim is well-founded, so that you have the best chance of prevailing — whether that means reaching a settlement or taking the matter to trial.
At PLBSH, our team of experienced wrongful termination attorneys works to achieve justice for employees who have faced discrimination in the workplace. We are dedicated to helping our clients achieve the best possible result based on the facts of their case. Contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation with a wrongful termination attorney.