Virginia EEOC Hearings
Federal employees have many protections that private sector employees lack. Knowing what to do to enforce these rights often takes specialized knowledge that might call for the help of a skilled EEOC attorney from the Spiggle Law Firm.
Federal anti-discrimination laws make it illegal to take action against federal employees because of their race, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, prior discrimination complaints, and other protected characteristics. If you were denied a promotion or raise, received unfair discipline, or experienced other problems at in your federal sector job and suspect that it was because of illegal discrimination, you could benefit from getting immediate professional help from a Virginia EEOC hearings lawyer.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Process for Virginia Federal Workers
In most situations, the first action for a federal employee who wishes to pursue a discrimination claim is to make an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) counselor or another appropriate member of management aware of their complaint within 45 days of the discriminatory act. The EEOC counselor then has the responsibility to initiate internal processes in response, which typically involve EEO counseling or other measures to resolve the employee’s concerns amicably at an early stage.
If a discrimination concern is not settled at this early stage, the employee has the option of submitting a formal EEOC complaint within their agency. This triggers the process that leads to further investigation and an EEOC hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
Before the EEOC hearing in Virginia, most cases go through several months of pre-hearing procedures. This includes a requirement that the employer submits a formal response to the employee’s claim and provide the employee’s entire file, which the employee has the right to review.
Typically, the parties also engage in discovery. This is a chance for both sides to request relevant or potentially relevant documents, videos, and computer files from their opponent to which they may not otherwise have had access. They may also be able to submit written questions to the opposing party relating to their claims or defenses.
As the time for the hearing approaches, the ALJ would require the parties to narrow the issues to be determined and disclose the witnesses and other evidence they plan to present. Since all cases differ, though, having experienced legal counsel from the Spiggle Law Firm throughout the EEOC claims process can be helpful for many Virginia federal employees.
The EEOC Hearing and Beyond
The Virginia EEOC hearing itself is very similar to a court trial, in that both parties have the chance to present their evidence and make arguments for their positions. Significantly, the employee bears the ultimate burden of proving that they experienced unlawful discrimination or retaliation. While complex laws and legal standards govern these issues, having a seasoned legal representation could be crucial for anyone who wants to present as strong a case as possible.
Following the EEOC hearing, the ALJ considers the evidence the parties presented, decides on disputed facts, and finally issues a formal memorandum setting out their findings of fact and conclusions of law. At its heart, this determination sets out whether the employee proved their discrimination case or not.
When the employee prevails, the ALJ would also address what the employer must do to remedy the discrimination. Possible remedies can include payment of back pay or benefits, requiring reinstatement, promotion, or other actions to address a violation. If either party disagrees with the result of the EEOC hearing, they have the right to file an appeal with the Office of Federal Operations of the EEOC or file a lawsuit in federal district court.
Getting Help with EEOC Hearings in Virginia
While no one is required to have a lawyer file an EEOC claim for them or represent them at a subsequent hearing, EEOC judges and the government’s lawyers expect anyone going through such a claim to understand the applicable rules and procedures. Employees who decide to pursue a hearing without assistance from a qualified attorney may find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to represent themselves.
Our experienced employment lawyers at the Spiggle Law Firm make it their business to understand the many aspects of law and practice, so they can more effectively advise you as you go through Virginia EEOC hearings. For information about getting personal help from experienced legal counsel, click here to use our free online case review tool.