Q. A former employee has just filed a discrimination charge against us with both the EEOC and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR). We are a small company, and the owner has suggested that we respond to the charge ourselves without using an attorney, as we previously have done in unemployment compensation cases. Is there any reason we should not represent ourselves in this case?
A. Yes. The consequences of losing a discrimination case can be far more serious than losing an unemployment compensation claim. A finding of discrimination can cost a lot of money, and it may haunt you in the future should other employees file charges.
Even if you appeal the administrative ruling by the MDCR or the EEOC, you may live to regret not having a skilled advocate to represent you. Administrative determinations of the EEOC or MDCR are not automatically binding on the parties, but such determinations may be admissible evidence in a subsequent civil litigation. Trial courts have discretion to accept EEOC or MDCR final determinations into evidence for purposes of deciding motions. Juries also may consider them, based on their “probative value.”
You are not in the business of dealing with administrative agencies or litigating discrimination claims. Get help!