In fiscal year 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission obtained a near-record amount of money for job bias victims, but much of this money went to cases that had been stalled inside the EEOC for years.
Government lawyers obtained over $484 million for victims last fiscal year, according to the agency. The bulk of this money came during presuit mediation. Furthermore, the EEOC resolved 99,109 cases, reducing its backlog to 61,621. For fiscal 2016, these figures were 97,443 resolutions and a 73,508-case pending docket. Some litigation highlights (or lowlights) include a Chipotle worker who was allegedly locked in a freezer for lodging a sexual harassment complaint and a Time Warner Cable employee who lost her job after she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Reducing the case backlog, and focusing only on the most egregious cases, have been the agency’s top priorities under Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic. “The pending inventory of private sector charges … has been a longstanding issue for the EEOC and the public it serves,” she remarked.
Choosing the Right Chicago Employment Discrimination Lawyer
Under federal law, all job bias complaints must go to the EEOC first. But in the current environment, EEOC investigators are usually only interested in cases that either will settle quickly or may potentially bring millions of dollars in damages. In practical terms, that means issues like racial discrimination that involve a supervisor’s use of racial slurs or actions against large multi-state employers.
If a new case does not meet these narrow parameters, the EEOC will probably not want to pursue it and will instead quickly issue a right-to-sue letter. It’s important to realize that this letter does not mean your case is meritless; rather, it simply means that the agency does not want to pursue the matter, for whatever reason.
When your valuable employment discrimination case goes to a private attorney, the lawyer should have the following qualities:
- Experienced: It may sound trite, but there is truly no substitute for experience, because veteran job bias attorneys simply have more skills than those with little actual experience in this area.
- Aggressive: A fast settlement is often in the client’s best interests, but an attorney should not give away the case for less than full value simply to conclude the matter quickly, because that situation only benefits the employer.
- Local: Many courts have their own procedural rules, and many of these rules are unwritten. Your case should not serve as on-the-job training for an out-of-town lawyer.
During your initial consultation, the attorney should clearly demonstrate both a passion for justice and a knowledge of the law. A good attorney does not guarantee a good result, but a bad lawyer almost always guarantees a bad result.
The Job Bias Lawsuit Process in Illinois
As mentioned, the vast majority of civil lawsuits — up to 90 percent in some jurisdictions — settle before trial. Sometimes, the attorneys on each side simply exchange correspondence. But more often, the case goes to formal mediation, where a neutral third party works to facilitate settlement.
If the case goes to trial, the plaintiff normally has the burden of proof to establish each element of the claim by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Reach Out to a Savvy Attorney
The EEOC is the first place to go with your job bias claim, but it may not be the best place to go. For a confidential consultation with an aggressive employment law attorney in Chicago, contact the Law Office of Mitchell Kline. After-hours visits are available.