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Right To Sue Letters From The EEOC

Overview of EEOC Right to Sue Letters

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides you with a “right to sue letter” when they complete working on a case. A right to sue letter serves a key purpose: it permits you to file a lawsuit in federal court.  You need a right to sue letter in order to file most kinds of employment discrimination cases.

In many instances, employees file charges of discrimination with the EEOC for the sole purpose of receiving a right to sue letter, so they can proceed with filing a discrimination complaint in federal court.  Many employment lawyers consider federal courts more favorable than the EEOC for pursuing federal discrimination (Title VII) claims.  In these instances, the employee (usually through their attorney) does not wait for the agency to investigate their claim before requesting a right to sue letter from the agency.

Other employees wait until after the EEOC completes its investigation of their claims. The EEOC’s investigation may involve interviews, a fact-finding conference, requests for information and affidavits.  Often, through this process, an employee receives information that is useful if they decide to later pursue a federal court proceeding.

Both options have their advantages.  Immediately requesting a right to sue letter allows you to quickly file your federal court action, rather than wait for the EEOC to complete their investigation, which can be prolonged.  But if you allow your case to proceed at the EEOC, you may receive a “Cause Determination,” which means the EEOC found there was probably cause that you were discriminated against.  While this does not guarantee that you will prevail in your suit, it often motivates employers to settle.

You do not need a right to sue letter to file an age discrimination or equal pay act case.

EEOC Right to Sue Letter: Time Limits

If you received a right to sue letter, the clock is now ticking.  You have 90 days to file your case.   If you don’t file it within 90 days, you could be forever barred from filing your employment discrimination case in federal court.

Interpretation of Time Limits for Filing Federal Discrimination Complaint by Federal Courts in New York:

In a decision issued in March 2021, in case Vann v. Persico, United States District Judge Kenneth M. Karas of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York summarized the legal requirement of a right to sue letter for filing a Title VII case, and the time limits, as follows:

  • A plaintiff may bring an employment discrimination action under Title VII . . . only after filing a timely charge with the EEOC or with ‘a State or local agency with authority to grant or seek relief from such practice.'” Holtz v. Rockefeller & Co., 258 F.3d 62, 82-83 (2d Cir. 2001) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)). In addition, “a claim under [Title VII] must be filed in federal district court within 90 days of the claimant’s receipt of a right to sue letter from the EEOC.”

Vann v. Persico, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61255 (S.D.N.Y., March 30, 2021).

If you have questions about a right to sue letter, you can speak with an employment lawyer at Rapaport Law Firm in New York City. Call us at (212) 382-1600 or send New York employment attorney Marc Rapaport an email: mrapaport@rapaportlaw.com. The discrimination lawyers at Rapaport Law Firm have handled Title VII cases for 25 years.

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