Every week, our office dozens of calls from people who have received a right to sue letter from the EEOC. Many of these people got that letter weeks ago. Now they are scrambling to find a lawyer and worried that time will run out. This is what you should know and how you can protect your rights:
The EEOC process
In most discrimination cases, the first step you must take to protect your rights is filing a complaint about discrimination with the EEOC or the relevant state counterpart. In Florida, that state counterpart is the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR). Keep in mind that this entire process has strict deadlines. So if you have been discriminated against at work, there are deadlines — even for filing the initial “charge” of discrimination with the EEOC or FCHR. You don’t need a lawyer to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or FCHR. But having a lawyer handle this process for you can be very helpful. Going forward, I will just refer to both of these entities using the short-hand EEOC.
Right to Sue
In cases that go through the EEOC process, you are not allowed to file a lawsuit in court until you receive what is called a “Right to Sue Letter” or “Notice of Right to Sue”. But once you receive this notice, you only have 90 days to file a lawsuit. At first, that 90 days might seem like a long time. But in reality, it is not. Suppose you don’t find out about the Notice or Right to Sue Letter until more than a week has gone by. Then you start researching possible lawyers. You make some phone calls and leave some messages. Pretty quickly, there are only 60 days left on the clock. At this point, many lawyers and law firms are hesitant to even consider your case. Why? Because that only leaves them 60 days to evaluate your possible case, investigate the facts, attempt to negotiate a settlement, and then – if necessary – file a lawsuit. Most firms do not want that time pressure.
Get an Attorney Early in the Process
The earlier you get an attorney, the better. If believe you have been discriminated, retaliated against, sexually harassed, wrongfully terminated, or anything of the sort, contact an attorney. If you are in Florida, you are welcome to contact our office at 954-332-2380. We receive hundreds of emails and phone calls every month. And we cannot possibly accept everyone’s case. But one of our attorneys’ personally will review the facts of your case and promptly decide if we will decline the matter outright, or, investigate further. Whether you call our firm or another employment law firm, the sooner you get a lawyer, the better. If possible, get a lawyer at the very beginning of the EEOC process to help you file the charge of discrimination. That way, when you get a Right to Sue Letter or Notice of Right to Sue, you already will have an attorney who is familiar with the case and who may be willing to pursue your case in court.
You Only Have 90 Days
If you recently received a Right to Sue Letter, you only have 90 days. You need to act quickly. For any lawyer or law firm you contact, you should let them know right away that you have a Right to Sue Letter. Some firms will prioritize your inquiry because of these strict deadlines. At our firm, we have an expedited screening and investigation process for cases that are on the clock. That said, please do not sabotage your own case by waiting until the last minute. As a general rule, we turn away any client who has less than 30 days remaining to file a lawsuit. That sort of time pressure makes it difficult for us to investigate your case and – if we accept it – prepare a lawsuit that is up to our standards. Beyond that: Absent exceptional circumstances, waiting until you only have 30 days left shows that you don’t take your own rights seriously. We work very hard and care deeply about our clients and their cases. We only represent clients who are equally committed to their own cases. Bottom line: You must take steps to protect your own rights. The sooner you obtain a lawyer, the better.
About the Firm & Jonathan Pollard
Jonathan Pollard is an employment lawyer and the founder of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida law firm Pollard PLLC. Pollard and his colleagues have represented hundreds of employees in non-compete, trade secret, defamation, discrimination, and sexual assault cases. Pollard has appeared in or on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, NPR, PBS News Hour, The Guardian, Law 360, and more. Pollard has 80,000+ followers on LinkedIn, where he frequently posts about law, litigation, business, and life. The firm’s office can be reached at 954-466-3981.