Q & A Session – EEO Hearing v. Civil Action


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


I have been told by friends who are EEO counselors that most EEO cases settle before a hearing. Do you have a sense of how EEO cases fare when a civil action is filed? Are most settled? Are the settlement amounts higher? When the agency doesn’t settle, do they usually win? Why would a complainant choose to file a civil action over an EEO hearing?


Most EEO cases settle. Whether the amounts in settlement are higher than litigation cannot be determined. Sometimes, in a settlement, a complainant can get something the judge is powerless to award in exchange for compromising elsewhere. Someone might choose a civil action in federal court versus an EEO hearing at the EEOC to have the case heard by a jury. But federal court is demanding and complicated, and it is difficult to succeed there without a lawyer. The same might be said of an EEOC hearing, but the procedures are somewhat less complicated.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

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About Author

Debra Roth

Debra L. Roth is a partner at the law firm Shaw Bransford & Roth, a federal employment law firm in Washington, D.C. She is general counsel to the Senior Executives Association and the Federal Managers Association, host of the “FEDtalk” program on Federal News Radio, and a regular contributor to Federal News Radio’s “Federal Drive” morning show. Email your legal questions to lawyer@federaltimes.com.

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