Dec 1 2021
Josh Goodbaum: Hi, Amanda.
Amanda DeMatteis: Hey, Josh. I hear we’re talking about administrative agencies today.
Goodbaum: Well, this is something that can be really confusing to non-lawyers and two that in particular are important to our work are the CHRO and the EEOC. So, the CHRO is the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. The EEOC is the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and both of those agencies have jurisdiction or power/authority over most kinds of employment discrimination and retaliation claims — not all of them, but most of them. And for the most part, what that means is that in order to bring a discrimination or retaliation claim in court, you first have to go to one of these administrative agencies, either the CHRO or the EEOC, and exhaust your administrative remedies. That’s the legal term of art, that’s what lawyers say. You’ve got to have administrative exhaustion, and sometimes it can feel like exhaustion, before you go and file a lawsuit. So, how does that process work, Amanda?
DeMatteis: Well, so number one, it’s really different from say a car accident case or a personal injury case where the injury can happen on a Tuesday and you can have direct access to the court on Wednesday. These agencies, the CHRO and EEOC, are almost like a gatekeeping mechanism. You have to go through this process before you have access to the courts. You can do that without a lawyer. So, some people think “You know what? I’m going to file my claim of discrimination or retaliation in the CHRO or the EEOC and then I’ll get a lawyer.” And that may not always be the best idea. You can do it; there’s certainly nothing preventing you from doing that. But these cases can be really strategic and there’s a benefit to talking with an employment lawyer who’s been through this process more times than we can count, versus someone like you who’s going through it for the first time, who may be able to strategize and say “Hey, the best thing to do is A or the best thing to do is Z.” So, before you go ahead and file, talk to an employment lawyer and decide the best way to do that. Remember though, time is of the essence. You only have 300 days from the last discriminatory or retaliatory act to file in the CHRO or the EEOC. You’ve got to leave yourself plenty of time; don’t decide to talk to a lawyer on day 285. Leave yourself time, be aware of these time constraints, get a good strategy in place, and move forward.
Goodbaum: Great advice! Thanks so much.
DeMatteis: See ya!