Woman being yelled atThis is the third post in our series on dealing with a hostile work environment in Atlanta, Georgia. Our last article explained what conduct will constitute a “hostile work environment.” It is important to understand that there are many types of discrimination and employer violations that will fit this description. In this article we will discuss the process an employee faces when bringing such a claim. It cannot be stressed enough that the process is complicated and that you should contact an employment attorney immediately if you feel your rights have been violated.

Atlanta employees who wish to bring a charge against their employer are not permitted to immediately file a lawsuit. It is required that you first go through an administrative process with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This process will determine whether the government will assist you directly or whether you need to take your employer to Court yourself. An employee who attempts to immediately file a lawsuit, without going through the EEOC process, will likely have their case dismissed. They would be able to refile their suit after following the correct procedures.

EEOC claims must generally be filed within 180 days of the last time any employer misconduct occurred. Under certain circumstances this time frame may be extended. The employer will receive notice of the Complaint within ten days after it is filed. The Commission may ask you to attend mediation, depending on the circumstances. If mediation is not successful in resolving the dispute then the employer will be asked to respond to your Complaint in writing. You will be asked to respond to the employer’s position within another twenty days. The EEOC will investigate your claims, conduct any necessary interviews, and request any necessary documents or records from the company. If the company does not cooperate then the Commission may subpoena the records. The length of the investigation will vary depending on the facts of your situation. On average, in 2015, the investigation process took roughly ten months.

If the EEOC determines that a violation occurred then one of multiple things may happen. If the Commission determines that a violation occurred then it will try to reach a settlement with the employer. If a settlement cannot be reached then the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) may file a Federal Court case on your behalf.  The DOJ will handle the matter from that point. If the EEOC or the DOJ decides not to file a lawsuit then you will be given a “right to sue” letter. At this point you are permitted to file a case in Court. It is important that you have an attorney throughout the process as navigating the EEOC’s procedures can seem overwhelming to many.

Our Atlanta hostile workplace lawyers assist Georgia employees with cases involving sexual harassment, gender harassment, discrimination, FMLA violations, and more. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. We also service Jonesboro, Macon, Savannah, Athens, Kennesaw, Marietta, Decatur, Dunwoody, Stone Mountain, Tucker, Alpharetta, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Norcross, Gainesville, as well as the counties of Bibb, Chatham, Clarke, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Richmond.

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