Read EEOC complaint carefully: Employees can’t later expand lawsuit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

Typically, an employment discrimination lawsuit starts with an EEOC complaint. That document is often an employer’s first notice that an employee plans to take an employment dispute to court.

Review it thoroughly to determine the scope of the problem. If the employee later tries to add additional discrimination claims, you’ll be prepared to point out that they didn’t appear in the original EEOC allegations. Courts often toss out such additional claims.

Recent case:
Jimmy Robinson, who is black, had worked for Bayer Healthcare for 22 years when the company fired him. He refused to take a drug and alcohol test after a supervisor allegedly smelled alcohol on his breath.

Robinson filed an EEOC complaint alleging race discrimination, claiming that other employees had benefited from last-chance agreements while he was summarily fired.

When he filed the actual lawsuit in federal court, he added a so-called pattern-and-practice claim, alleging that Bayer’s testing program singled out black employees.

The court refused to let him take that claim to court because his EEOC complaint included only allegations that he had personally been the victim of race discrimination. The court did allow his personal claim to go forward. (Robinson v. Bayer Healthcare, No. 3:07-CV-486, ND IN, 2008)

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