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Employee has already complained to EEOC? Get attorney’s help before agreeing to settle

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Consult your attorney before settling any internal discrimination complaint. If the employee has already filed an EEOC or other complaint, giving her what she originally wanted may not be good enough unless there’s a formal, binding settlement agreement.

Recent case: Sarah applied for a promotion to a correctional counselor position with Luzerne County. She and a male co-worker—the two top candidates—were both interviewed. On paper their qualifications were quite similar, but the county picked the man because he allegedly had more experience and training.

Sarah filed an internal grievance, which stalled. She then filed an EEOC complaint. Shortly after, the county awarded her the job with back pay.

She continued her lawsuit and the county tried to have it dismissed under the theory that there was nothing to sue over once it gave her the job.

The court disagreed. Because she filed the complaint before the county corrected its hiring decision, she was entitled to continue the lawsuit for damages in excess of back pay and the actual promotion. (Kosek v. Luzerne County, et al., No. 3:11-CV-1558, MD PA, 2012)

Final note: Be sure to engage your attorney before settling an internal complaint when the employee has an outstanding lawsuit or EEOC complaint about the same complaint. Both should be wrapped up together for finality’s sake.

Better yet, seek quick resolution of any internal complaints so the employee isn’t tempted to sue in the first place.

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