Sometimes, it makes sense to settle an EEOC complaint rather than risk a lawsuit and all the costs that go along with litigation. That may be true even if the employer doesn’t think it did anything wrong. It may be cheaper in the long run to pay out a few thousand dollars than risk a costly court fight.
Of course, that settlement probably will come out of some department’s budget. Warn the department manager to take the hit with grace and resist the temptation to show anger or resentment. As the following case shows, even one comment can mean large legal bills.
Recent case: Steve Mack, who had left his job at the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), reapplied for some job openings. When the BOP didn’t select Mack, he filed an EEOC complaint. The agency negotiated a settlement that included payment of $10,000, plus reinstatement.
Mack returned to work and began applying for promotions. He was repeatedly turned down despite an excellenthistory. Mack suspected he was being punished for filing the EEOC complaint—especially since his boss had told him he did not like Mack because the settlement had come out of the boss’s budget.
Mack sued, alleging retaliation. The trial court said Mack had enough evidence to warrant a jury trial, even thoughargued it had promoted others because they had qualities Mack lacked. (Mack v. Mukasey, No. 06-CV-00350, DC CO, 2008)
Warning: Attorneys for employees often tell their clients to be on the lookout for retaliation.