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Enforcement Of Workplace Discrimination Laws

What Happens After A Discrimination Complaint Is Filed With A Government Agency?

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As a general matter, when a charge is filed with a governmental agency, your employer is notified that the charge has been filed.

Your case can go onto one of two tracks: the Litigation Track or the Mediation Track.

The litigation track works as follows:

  • The agency investigates on a priority basis to determine if the initial facts appear to support a violation of law.
  • If more information is needed, the agency will conduct a follow-up investigation to determine whether it is likely that a violation has occurred.
  • If the agency finds that a violation of law has occurred, it will attempt a "Conciliation." The agency contacts your employer and attempts to get the employer to correct the situation.
  • If Conciliation fails:
    • The agency will consider suing the employer.
    • If the agency decides not to sue, it will provide you with a "Right to Sue" letter. You then have the time specified in the notice (usually 90 days) to bring your own legal action against the employer. You cannot begin a lawsuit prior to receiving this letter from the appropriate agency.

The mediation track works as follows:

If the case requires additional investigation to determine whether or not there was a violation but the indications are that there may have been, the agency may move your case out of the litigation track to Mediation.

Mediation gives you and your employer the opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the charge, clear up misunderstandings, determine the underlying interests or concerns, find areas of agreement and, ultimately, to incorporate those areas of agreements into an acceptable solution.

  • Mediation is an informal process in which a neutral third party assists both you and your employer to reach a voluntary, negotiated resolution of a charge of discrimination.
  • The decision to mediate is completely voluntary for both you and your employer.
  • The agency will provide a mediator to conduct the process. The mediator does not resolve your charge or impose a decision on the parties. Instead, the mediator helps you and your employer agree on a mutually acceptable resolution.
  • The mediation process is strictly confidential. Information disclosed during mediation will not be revealed to anyone, including other agency employees.
  • If the matter is resolved, that is the end of it. If not, then it's up to you to decide whether to sue your employer.


If, in the agency's best judgment, there is no violation of the law, a charge may be dismissed at any time, including at the time the charge is filed, at the time an initial in-depth interview does not produce evidence to support the claim, or later on.

If an agency dismisses the case, it will issue a notice closing the case. You then have a limited period of time (such as 90 days) in which to file a lawsuit yourself.

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