What Happens after a Charge of Employment Discrimination is Filed with DDOL?
The employer is notified that the charge has been filed. From this point there are a number of ways a charge may be handled:
- The charge may be selected for DDOL's mediation program if both the charging party and the employer express an interest in this option. Mediation is offered as an alternative to a lengthy investigation. Participation in the mediation program is confidential, voluntary, and requires consent from both charging party and employer. If mediation is unsuccessful, the charge is returned for investigation.
- DDOL can seek to settle a charge at any stage of the investigation if the charging party and the employer express an interest in doing so. If settlement efforts are not successful, the investigation continues.
- In investigating a charge, DDOL may make written requests for information, interview people, review documents, and, as needed, visit the facility where the alleged discrimination occurred. When the investigation is complete, DDOL will discuss the evidence with the charging party or employer, as appropriate.
- A charge may be dismissed at any point once the preliminary determination has been issued in the agency's best judgment, further investigation will not establish a violation of the law. When a charge is dismissed, a notice is issued in accordance with the law which gives the charging party 90 days in which to file a lawsuit on his or her own behalf.
How Does DDOL Resolve Discrimination Charges?
- If the evidence obtained in an investigation does not establish that discrimination occurred, this will be explained to the charging party. A required notice is then issued, closing the case and giving the charging party 90 days in which to file a lawsuit on his or her own behalf.
- If the evidence establishes that discrimination has occurred, the employer and the charging party will be informed of this in a letter of determination that explains the finding. DDOL will then attempt conciliation with the employer to develop a remedy for the discrimination.
- If the case is successfully conciliated, or if a case has earlier been successfully mediated or settled through no-fault settlement, neither DDOL nor the charging party may go to court unless the conciliation, mediation, or settlement agreement is not honored.
- If DDOL is unable to successfully conciliate the case, it will issue a notice closing the case and giving the charging party 90 days in which to file a lawsuit on his or her own behalf.
When Can an Individual File an Employment Discrimination Lawsuit in Court?
A charging party may file a lawsuit within 90 days after receiving a notice of a "right to sue" from DDOL, as stated above. Under the Discrimination in Employment Act and the Handicapped Persons Employment Protections Act, a charging party also can request a notice of "right to sue" from the DDOL after the charge is first filed with the Agency, and may then bring suit within 90 days after receiving this notice.
What Remedies Are Available When Discrimination Is Found?
The "relief" or remedies available for employment discrimination, whether caused by intentional acts or by practices that have a discriminatory effect, may include:
- back pay,
- front pay,
- reasonable accommodation, or
- other actions that will make an individual "whole" (in the condition s/he would have been but for the discrimination).
Remedies also may include payment of:
- attorneys' fees,
- expert witness fees, and
- court costs.
Damages may be available to compensate for actual monetary losses, for future monetary losses, and for mental anguish and inconvenience.
In cases concerning reasonable accommodation under the HPEPA, compensatory or punitive damages may not be awarded to the charging party if an employer can demonstrate that "good faith" efforts were made to provide reasonable accommodation.
An employer may be required to post notices to all employees addressing the violations of a specific charge and advising them of their rights under the laws the DDOL enforces and their right to be free from retaliation. Such notices must be accessible, as needed, to persons with visual or other disabilities that affect reading.
The employer also may be required to take corrective or preventive actions to cure the source of the identified discrimination and minimize the chance of its recurrence, as well as discontinue the specific discriminatory practices involved in the case.