Frequently Asked Questions
While filing a lawsuit against your current or former employer or other institution can feel overwhelming and generate a great deal of anxiety, there are many avenues available to ease your worries. One of the best ways to prepare for your case is by asking questions and researching employment discrimination laws that may help your case.
As a service, the Seattle Law Office of Susan B. Mindenbergs provides answers to some frequently asked questions about civil rights and employment discrimination law.
- What is the EEOC?
- What damages can I sue for in a Seattle employment discrimination lawsuit?
- What are the statues of limitations for filing an employment discrimination claim?
- What must I prove to win my case?
- How much does a discrimination lawsuit cost?
- What is a contingency fee and how is that different from an hourly fee?
- How do I know if an employment discrimination attorney is right for me?
What is the EEOC?
The EEOC – known formally as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – is a federal agency dedicated to ending employment discrimination and holding guilty employers responsible for their actions. Similar organizations include the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Office of Civil Rights, the Washington State Human Rights Commission, and the Seattle Office of Civil Rights.
What damages can I sue for in a Seattle employment discrimination lawsuit?
Plaintiffs in employment discrimination lawsuits have the right to sue for compensation for:
- Lost back pay
- Lost benefits
- Lost future wages
- Compensatory damages
- Liquidated damages
- Emotional damages
- Attorney fees
- Other expenses
Additionally, punitive damages may be awarded in certain cases.
What are the statues of limitations for filing an employment discrimination claim?
Determining the applicable statues of limitations for filing an employment discrimination claim is a somewhat complex process. Timelines vary based on the type of discrimination, the jurisdiction(s) under which the case falls, and filing procedures.
Some cases require filing a charge of discrimination with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC sets the deadline for sending a complaint to the EEOC within 180 days or – depending on the conditions of the discriminatory act – 300 days. The EEOC then investigates the charge. After the investigation, generally the EEOC issues a Right to Sue notice.
The claimant then ahs 90 days from receipt of the Right to Sue notice from the EEOC to file a lawsuit in court.
There is no need to file a charge with the EEOC if the complaint is brought under Washington state discrimination laws and some federal discrimination laws. The outermost statute of limitation is three (3) years from the date of the discriminatory acts.
Ultimately, it is best to consult an attorney as soon as possible to ensure your claim is handled properly.
What must I prove to win my case?
First, plaintiffs filing employment discrimination lawsuits need to prove they were discriminated against because of their “protected class status,” i.e., gender, race, age, national origin, sexual orientation, or religion. (See Practice Areas, Employment Discrimination for additional information on groups protected under anti-discrimination laws.) Generally, they must then prove the following:
- They were qualified for their position and doing satisfactory work;
- They face negative retaliation or poor treatment because of their protected class status; or
- They were unfairly discharged;
- They were replaced by an employee who is not a member of the protected class;
- The employer fired them under false pretenses.
How much does a discrimination lawsuit cost?
The cost of your case depends on its complexity, length, the billing structure used, and several other factors. Susan Mindenbergs does all she can to obtain the maximum recovery for your losses in a cost-effective manner. Because every legal situation is different, it is impossible to predict the exact cost of your case.
What is a contingency fee and how is that different from an hourly fee?
A contingency fee is a payment system where attorneys do not charge for their services unless they collect damages for a client. This means you pay nothing for meetings with an attorney, the time an attorney spends preparing your case for court, or the time an attorney spends during trial. When your case is resolved, your attorney is paid a percentage of your award or settlement. If you do receive financial compensation, you are not billed for the attorney’s time and the attorney receives no payment. You are responsible, however, for paying the costs incurred for litigating the case, for example, court filing fees, service of process, expert witness fees, depositions, copying, postage, etc.
An hourly fee is just as it sounds-you are billed a certain amount of money for each hour a lawyer works on your case.
How do I know if an employment discrimination attorney is right for me?
Choosing an attorney is an important, highly personal choice you should not take lightly. Factors to take into account when looking for an attorney include:
- The experience an attorney has trying employment discrimination cases,
- The attention an attorney can devote to your case,
- The attorney’s accessibility to his or her clients, and
- How well the attorney listens to you about your case.
Attorney Susan Mindenbergs has devoted 20 years of her legal career to representing discrimination victims. She works closely with clients and is always available to answer questions and discuss any concerns you may have.
Please contact The Law Office of Susan Mindenbergs by telephone or email, to schedule a consultation about your discrimination claims.