Once you have filed your complaint with the EEOC or the Texas Workforce Commission-Civil Rights Division (TWCCRD), you must cooperate with the investigator and wait 180 days for them to investigate the complaint. The EEOC will send a notice to your former employer that a complaint has been filed and will normally request a response. Usually, the company sends the notice to their lawyer and they come back with reasons why they didn’t discriminate against you. The EEOC will not send you the letter and evidence from the employer but they will normally send a letter to you reciting the employer’s non-discriminatory reasons why they took the action such as discharge. The investigator will want you to provide reasons and evidence why what your employer is claiming is not true or not the whole story. You must answer honestly; however, you should remember that what you say in your complaint and response may later be used in any suit you bring. Therefore, it is very important that you focus on the evidence which proves that your employer discriminated against you on the basis of one of the reasons made illegal by law-race, religion, national origin, disability, sex (also sexual harassment), age, and retaliation for having complained about any of these illegal reasons. If you focus on the fact that one of your supervisors didn’t like you or you had a personality clash, you are playing into the employer’s hands and will lose because these reasons are not illegal and will not support a suit. Remember, there can be more than one reason for an employment action and even if the action is mixed with legal reasons, if it is also based on an illegal reason, then you can prevail. But, focus on the illegal reason and not the legal one. I’m not saying be dishonest, just put your best case first and focus on it. Once the EEOC investigator has completed the investigation, they will either recommend that a cause finding be made, which is good for you, or find that there is not sufficient evidence to support a claim. Either way, they will eventually dismiss the claim and grant a right to sue. After 180 days from the time you filed the complaint, even if they have not made a finding about your case, you can request that they dismiss and grant a right to sue. This moves the case toward court; however, once the right to sue is issued you only have 90 days to file suit in federal court and if the complaint was with the TWCCRD, you only have 60 days to file. Therefore, before you ask to have a right to sue granted, you may want to have a lawyer lined up to take the case, if possible. Otherwise, you risk starting the clock and you could have trouble finding a lawyer. The EEOC maintains a list of lawyers that practice employment law and you can ask them for a name.
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