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Steps to Take When Filing a Massachusetts Employment Law Case

Massachusetts employment law cases can take various forms, depending on the reasons for employment law filings. Reasons for filing suit regarding employment law include, but are not limited to, the following claims.

  • Employment discrimination.
  • Harassment, sexual or otherwise.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) violations.
  • Unlawful retaliation for “whistle-blowing” actions.
  • Wrongful termination.
  • Fair employment law violations.

EEOC violation claims seem to be the most popular types of employment law cases. Since EEOC hearings are more arbitration than pure legal proceedings, plaintiffs often still must file lawsuits to get relief. Typically, before you file a labor or employment lawsuit, you must try to settle the dispute administratively, filing complaints with federal or state agencies within the time frame specified. The following steps are those that you should follow before filing suit.

  • File a complaint with the EEOC, the state attorney general, the state Department of Labor, or another appropriate agency.

You can submit a complaint to the EEOC or the Department of Labor without having an attorney and using your own words. However, you are better protected with legal counsel representing your interests. If you choose to have legal counsel represent you, be careful, not to intimidate the arbiter representing the EEOC or other agency representative. There is no profit in demeaning the arbitration process.

  • Learn if your employer has a formal complaint policy and procedure. If it does, use it.

Follow the procedure specified in your employer’s complaint policy, if it has one. Try to obtain a fair decision for your disagreement or unlawful termination. Hopefully, you will receive an equitable decision that resolves your problem.

  • If your complaint is valid on its face, the agency will investigate your claim.

You will need to be patient with the agency, since it typically has up to 180 days (six months for the math-challenged) to complete its investigation and rendering a decision.

  • If the agency renders a disagreeable decision, you can usually appeal it.

When you disagree with the agency’s decision, you can request a hearing on your appeal. You can then present additional information to support your claim and appeal.

When to File a Lawsuit if the Administrative Procedures Fail

EEOC

If you want to file a suit you can, but you need to wait until 180 days after you filed your original complaint or had your appeal. If you have a decision, but did not file an appeal, you must file a suit within 90 days of the decision.

Wage and/or Hour Disputes

You can file a complaint with the state attorney general without completing full attempts for administrative remedies. Sometimes, the Secretary of Labor files suit to get you back wages.

Other Labor Disputes

Most states have strict time requirements regarding the filing periods, like wage and hour disputes. Be sure to follow the filing time regulations to the letter or risk losing the right to sue.

Employers seldom practice blatant job discrimination, while employees file EEOC claims charging job discrimination when they believe wanted promotions do not come. Unless the employee cites factual violations of EEOC regulations, and employers lack documented information with reasons why another employee was promoted in lieu of the complainant, these cases are difficult for employees to win.

While evidentiary regulations are weighted towards the employee, employers that maintain detailed records and personnel files often win these cases. Wrongful termination complaints seem to be somewhat easier for employees to verbalize, putting more focus on employer documentation. Most of these cases involve administrative resolution and settlement.

Davis and Davis, PC is the leading Boston, MA Employment Law Firm. For a free case consultation with a Boston, MA employment lawyer, please call: (978) 228-2262
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