Navigating Employment Discrimination Case: Start to Finish

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Similar to most lawsuits, there is no easy way to predict how long an employment discrimination case will take from start to finish. Employment discrimination cases are challenging, and addressing their complexities takes time. That is why even a rough estimate is difficult to determine without understanding the circumstances of the specific case. 

Most importantly please keep in mind that it is highly recommended to contact an employment attorney before making any decisions regarding your potential discrimination case. With that in mind, let’s delve into employment law discrimination cases and some factors impacting their timelines.

Factors Dictating the Duration of Employment Discrimination Cases

Predicting a case’s timeline is challenging, but the following considerations can provide an estimate. Regardless, prepare for a potentially lengthy process and consider consulting with an employment attorney before coming to your own conclusions regarding the timeline of your potential case.

1. Deadlines

The duration is heavily influenced by deadlines, particularly if the claim involves working with a government agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), wherein you must observe specific deadlines for a timely charge. If you miss these provisions, you risk losing the opportunity to submit your complaints for hearing and investigation.

2. Filing with another agency

Almost all recent employment discrimination cases require filing a charge with the EEOC before pursuing a claim in a court of law. An exception is the Equal Pay Act (EPA), which addresses wage disparities between men and women performing comparable work in the workplace. Additionally, most state employment discrimination laws require filing with a state government agency before pursuing litigation.

3. Settlement procedure

A settlement may occur at any time during an employment discrimination case. For it to happen, both parties must be willing to reach a compromise they can adhere to even after settling. The duration of settlements also varies depending on how quickly the plaintiff and defendant reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

4. Filing for an appeal

If either party is dissatisfied with the case’s outcome, including a complaint dismissal, they could appeal the decision to a higher court. The grounds for appeal include:

  • Misapplication of law
  • Misinterpretation of evidence
  • Procedural errors
  • Misconduct by the judge, jurors, or opposing counsel

This appeal process not only adds complexity to litigation but also extends its duration by several months or even years.

EEOC Timelines and Deadlines

If you plan to file charges under the EEOC provisions, you must complete them within 180 days of the alleged discrimination incident. It could extend to 300 days if a state or local law prohibits the same offense. Also, since the EPA doesn’t require filing a charge with the EEOC, a different deadline applies—two years from the last date of wage or pay discrepancy.

The EEOC must give notice of its determination no more than 180 days after filing. If the Commission grants a Notice of Right to Sue, you’ll have 90 days to file a lawsuit.

Furthermore, if all parties agree to settle the dispute at any point during EEOC’s investigation, the Commission may help reach a satisfactory compromise. If you decide to work with an employment attorney, they may produce a demand letter outlining the complaint, allowing the defendant to consider your settlement terms. It’s also an opportunity to make specific requests, such as the following:

  • Compensation for lost wages and back pay – You can ask for the replacement of lost wages directly resulting from the employer’s alleged behavior. It may include money lost during court proceedings or due to unfair pay, meaning calculating damages in employment discrimination cases is essential.
  • Emotional pain and suffering – Employee discrimination cases and settlement processes are usually emotionally taxing. That being said you may be entitled to compensation for psychological trauma resulting from the discriminatory incidents. 
  • Attorney’s fees – Settlements and court time are usually lengthy, increasing attorneys’ fees exponentially. It’s a common relief request in employment discrimination lawsuit settlements.
  • Under certain circumstances, the court may seek punitive damages in employment discrimination cases, especially for defendants who displayed exceptionally harmful behavior.

Duration of an Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

Following the filing of a lawsuit, the defendant has 30 to 60 days to respond, depending on the governing rules of procedure.

The next step is discovery, during which both parties gather information from witness depositions and record investigations to support their case. The duration of discovery depends on individual court rules, but it could go on for several months. However, the court can intervene and order both sides to attend mediation sessions in an attempt to settle out of court.

Cumulative periods and deadlines prolong employment claims. For example, employment discrimination cases in 2020 may continue until the present day. Moreover, this only accounts for the early stages of the case without intervening circumstances, which would otherwise further extend timelines.

At this point, the defense could attempt to end the case by filing certain motions, like a motion for summary judgment. Under such circumstances, it could close in the defendant’s favor if the court grants the summary judgment and you decide not to appeal. Working with an experienced employment attorney will ensure that you are equip to handle any legal obstacles defense may present. 

Trial, Post-Trial, and Appeals in an Employment Discrimination Case

Navigating employment discrimination cases is challenging for many, so here’s a brief rundown to familiarize you with what you may encounter down the line.

1. Trial

From the initiation of the case, it can take a few years before it reaches its first trial date. In this phase, the parties will present their claims before a judge and, at times, a jury. Your team will provide evidence proving discrimination, including:

  • witness testimonies;
  • emails, memos, and other relevant documents; and
  • physical evidence.

Both parties will also cross-examine each other’s witnesses to challenge their credibility or their testimony’s accuracy. Finally, the judge will sequester the jury to deliberate on a verdict and deliver a judgment based on the presented evidence and applicable laws.

2. Post-trial

After the trial concludes, both parties may file post-trial motions. The side with the least favorable outcome typically files a motion to attempt to alter results in its favor. For instance, they might move for a new trial, further prolonging the case.

3. Appeals

What often extends the duration of an employment discrimination case is the appeal process. If the losing party decides to challenge the outcome, a new phase begins in the Court of Appeals. The appeal’s duration and deadlines will follow a new set of rules. For example, both parties will have a certain number of days to file briefs after the appeal and before oral arguments.

Once the court decides on a final judgment, either party may file new motions or appeal further, with each alternative lengthening the case’s duration.

Handle Employment Discrimination Cases with Ease

Navigating an employment discrimination case from start to finish demands patience and perseverance. That said, you also need a thorough understanding of its legal process. Knowing what to do, especially when to do it, increases your likelihood of achieving a favorable outcome regardless of the time it takes.

An experienced attorney well-versed in discrimination law is invaluable when battling workplace discrimination.. For help filing claims and learning about your best legal options, consult an employment rights attorney at Shegerian & Associates today!

Disclaimer: None of the aforementioned information should be construed as legal advice. Likewise, contacting us via our website does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please consult with a competent and qualified attorney to discuss your specific situation before taking action on your own.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Employment Discrimination

Here are some FAQs to address your concerns about the legalities of employment discrimination.

1. How long does an employment discrimination case take from start to finish?

An employment discrimination case may take several months to a few years to conclude. It depends on numerous factors, such as the concerned government agency’s deadlines and whether a party appeals after a trial. We recommend contacting a legal professional for a more definite answer to questions regarding timeline for employment discrimination cases.

2. How long do you have to file an employment discrimination lawsuit?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says a lawsuit must be filed within 180 days following the discrimination incident. Otherwise, you miss the chance to seek justice and compensation for what you endured.

3. Do I need a lawyer for an employment discrimination case?

It is highly recommended that you consult with an employment lawyer if you believe that you have experienced employment discrimination or believe to have an employment law case. California has laws in place to protect workers from employment discrimination and to take advantage of these it is best to speak to a legal professional. 


Manuela Varela

Relations Manager

Manuela Varela has been with Shegerian & Associates since August 2022. She is responsible for outreach and marketing on behalf of the firm and manages relationships between firms and referring attorneys. She is also responsible for developing business opportunities and affiliations. Manuela graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Economics and Political Science.