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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