Discrimination case wrongly dismissed by EEOC

I filed a discrimination case with the EEOC. It was dismissed. The written admittance of discrimination is clear but was ignored. The extensive evidence does not corrulate with the dismissal. I have a dibilitating disease and very little resources. Can the case be re-opened even though its been 3 years?

1 answer  |  asked Dec 2, 2003 12:23 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

David M. Lira
Where Does the EEOC Fit-in

Just about all discrimination cases involving race, national origin, religion, gender, and disability (and, in a somewhat different way, age) are covered by federal law (Title VII, and the Americans with Disabilitis Act as well as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act) and state law (the New York State Human Rights Law). The procedural details for the federal laws are different than for the state law, and the differences can be very confusing. (That is one reason why you really need an attorney to help you with discrimination cases.)

If you pursue your claim under federal law, you generally have to go through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The role of the EEOC is also confusing.The EEOC, however, usually acts only as a gateway.

The EEOC does not make any kind of binding determination on your case, unlike the New York State Division of Human Rights in case where employees bring claims under state law. In rare cases, the EEOC might bring a lawsuit in federal court based on your claim. But, more often than not, it is up to you to pursue your claim in federal or state court.

This is how the procedure works when the EEOC is involved: First, you bring a "charge" to the EEOC within 300 days of the discriminatory act. (Because of a quirk in the law, it is actually highly advisable to file your charge within 240 days.) After the charge is filed, the EEOC has 180 days to investigate and decide what it wants to do. After the expiration of 180 days, you can ask for ask for a "Notice of Right to Sue" or "NORTS." The EEOC might automatically issue a NORTS even before the end of 180 days. After you get the NORTS, you have 90 days to start a lawsuit in either federal or state court. The 90 days is a deadline which is generally strictly enforced.

Very often the NORTS contains words indicating that the EEOC is dismissing the claim. That is nothing to worry about, because the EEOC is not making any binding determination, and you can go to court.

When the EEOC issues an NORTS, it might issue a finding that you do have a case ("probable cause") but the EEOC has decided to do nothing about it. It could just as well as issue a finding that you have no case (no probable cause"). It could just as well give you a NORTS without making any finding. When the EEOC issues a finding against your case, the finding can be used against you, but it is not binding on what a court will do.

Although I am sure there are ways to re-open a charge before the EEOC, there is usually no reason to worry about that since you can got to court instead.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Dec 2, 2003 5:46 PM [EST]

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