I signed an ADR when I hired on with ex-employer. Can I file with EEOC for Pay Discrimination?

I signed an ADR agreement at hire - with ex employer. I am female, and I found out several weeks before I took another job that they were paying equal male peer $30K more than me for the exact same job for the entire year of 2008. I also had seniority over him with the company, and I trained him on some aspects of the job. I contacted EEOC by phone and they told me I have until March 2010 to file my claim. I want the EEOC to investigate before I decide if I want to arbitrate because I feel that document disclosure by my ex-employer- such as W-2 earnings will be disclosed more easily to EEOC than in arbitration alone, plus I want EEOC to affirm the discrimination before I arbitrate. I've read about the Waffle House where the motion by waffle house to compel arbitration was denied, but am unsure if it was precedence for my case, or if there is something I am missing here - like if I file with EEOC instead of initially arbitrating, can my ex-employer sue me?

1 answer  |  asked Sep 1, 2009 7:43 PM [EST]  |  applies to Tennessee

Answers (1)

Neil Klingshirn
You can file a charge of unequal pay with the EEOC even though you agreed to take your Title VII (federal equal pay/gender discrimination) claim to arbitration, rather than court. The reason you can do both is that federal law gives the EEOC the power to investigate charges of discrimination, including unequal pay charges. The same federal law gives you the right to file suit on you own, after you first give the EEOC a chance to investigate your claim.

The arbitration agreement affects only your right to file suit in court, not the EEOC's right to accept and investigate your charge. Therefore, once the EEOC wraps up its investigation, you would file a demand for arbitration, rather than a lawsuit in court.

I see little risk in filing with the EEOC before demanding arbitration. In fact, the opposite is probably true. If you filed a demand for arbitration before filing with the EEOC, the ex-employer would probably prevail on a motion to dismiss your federal equal pay claim, since you need a right to sue letter from the EEOC, which requires you to file a charge, before you can proceed with your claim on your own. Also, the value of your equal pay claim will diminish over time, so the sooner you file with the EEOC, the better.

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Sep 2, 2009 1:41 PM [EST]

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