How Long Does It Take for a Discrimination Case to Settle

In our experience, we have found that discrimination cases can settle in as little as 4-6 months or take as long as 5-6 years. For many workers, this is frustrating. However, it is important not to take the first settlement you are offered if isn’t fair or high enough to make up for what you've lost. Our discrimination law firm has many years of experience settling cases. We will always try to settle your discrimination case before filing in court. But if your employer is not offering what we feel is the proper value for your discrimination case we will move forward and fight in court. Once filed in court there will still be opportunities to settle. Very few cases go all the way the jury. If you believe you might have a case, you should consult the seasoned New York City employment discrimination lawyers of Phillips and Associates.

You employer may offer a lowball settlement simply to get rid of your case and avoid the threat of bad publicity, as well as the risk and expense of litigation. Attorneys on either side may disagree on the value of the case because of differing understandings of how the court might apply the law to your particular situation.

While you shouldn’t accept a low-ball settlement without consulting a lawyer, there are cases that are worth less because the conduct involved was not harmful enough to warrant the investment of time, energy and expense associated with going to trial. In those cases, it may be appropriate to settle. You should still always contact a law firm before accepting any settlement and signing a discrimination settlement agreement. There are steps our firm could take to try and settle your discrimination case sooner. We try and reach out to your employer’s lawyer to seek resolution early. We also attempt to get all parties into a mediation prior to filing your case in court. A mediation is a process where both parties hire a mediator rather than a judge to listen to both sides and tries to get everyone to settle your discrimination case early. At Phillips & Associates we have been highly successful with the mediation process for our clients.

While discrimination cases can settle early, it’s important to find a discrimination law firm that has a lot of cases filed in court. This way your employer will know your serious about moving forward with your case if they do not compensate you appropriately. Unfortunately, some law firms will take your case and only try to settle early. They are not willing to litigate in court. If that’s the case, you will lose leverage when trying to negotiate. Your employer’s law firm knows which plaintiff’s firms are willing to fight and litigate, and which ones only try to settle early. Phillips & Associates has filed thousands of law suits on behalf of victims of discrimination. Your employers’ lawyers will know who we are and what they are up against.

Why Is It Taking So Long for My Discrimination Case to Settle?

We will always try to settle your discrimination case before filing in court. Due to our strong reputation and our willingness to take cases to trial, we may be able to persuade your employer and its representatives that it is in their best interests to settle sooner rather than later. We are more likely to persuade an employer when we have strong direct evidence of discrimination right off the bat. For instance, if you received an email in which your manager explicitly stated you are being passed over for a promotion because you are Asian American, we will have an easier time establishing the merit of your case with an employer and its representatives. If you were sexually harassed and you have email or text messages, that will be helpful in proving your case.

It may take longer to settle your case if the evidence that supports your discrimination claim is circumstantial or expert testimony is required. For instance:

  • If you are Black and you were told you were not promoted because you don't have management experience, but the white person who was promoted in your stead has also never been a manager, this might be circumstantial evidence of race discrimination.
  • If you are a woman in a predominantly-male workplace and your manager expresses stereotypes related to gender, such as telling you that you are not nice enough to your colleagues, this might be circumstantial evidence of sex discrimination that would help to settle your case.

Other circumstantial evidence may need to be gathered through a lengthy process of discovery. Some employers conceal or hide evidence to avoid settlement. In those cases, we will need to more aggressively pursue document requests, interrogatory responses, depositions, and subpoenas. We may find it necessary to file motions to get the evidence we need to settle or win your case.

When we bring a motion, we ask the court to make a decision about a small aspect of the case such as whether your employer should disclose its memos related to other employees or its meetings with you when you are claiming workplace harassment based on a disability. Your employer will have a chance to try to stop us from gathering evidence we need for your case by filing a response to our motion. This can prolong the time it takes to settle.

When the claim is not about disparate treatment, but about disparate impact, we may need to retain experts to examine the data. This process could also slow down settlement process.

Another reason why discrimination cases can take a long time to settle is that in order to file in federal court you have to file your case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). This is a prerequisite for filing in federal court. This can delay the process 4-8 months. However, this is an opportunity to settle while your case is before the EEOC. Our firm can help with that process as well. We prefer federal court as opposed to state court because the federal courts tend to be faster and more orderly than state court. Once in court (state or federal), the process can be lengthy, because the courts are busy and backed-up. It’s important for your discrimination attorney to be on top of your case and push it forward at every step of the process.

Amount of Damages at Stake Can Impact Settlement Under State or Local Law

Whether we pursue damages primarily through state, local, or federal laws can affect how long litigation takes. The New York State Human Rights Law has recently been amended to be more favorable to workers’ rights. It now allows nonemployees such as consultants, contractors, or vendors to recover against companies for any kind of discrimination. Due to the amendments, we will need less evidence to establish a hostile work environment under state law than under federal laws. This might reduce the amount of time it takes to settle a harassment case.

Like the state law, the New York City Human Rights Law provides substantial protections to employees. The liberal nature of this law may encourage your employer to settle fairly. However, this law only applies to your employer if it has at least four employees.

Settling Under Federal Law

In order to recover damages in a New York City case, we pursue claims under federal laws, when possible, along with state laws and city laws. The standards for proving discrimination are more stringent under federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Fewer characteristics are expressly protected. That’s why you may want to include state or local laws if available. It’s important for your law firm to understand all federal, state and local laws when pursing a claim.

Value of Your New York City Discrimination Case

We have obtained millions and millions of dollars for victims of employment discrimination. Very few firms can match our depth of knowledge with respect to potential claims and damages available in a discrimination case.

As employment lawyers, we can really only seek money damages. These include lost wages, emotional damages, legal fees, and possibly punitive damages. Unfortunately, while victims want justice, the only real justice available is monetary damages. Phillips & Associates has handled thousands of sexual harassment and discrimination cases. We understand the potential value of each case and have a database of privately-settled cases and verdicts from which to draw comparisons. Some lawyers have never handled a discrimination case valued over $250,000, let alone $1 million dollars. Discrimination victims do not understand the legal framework for damages. It’s our job to teach the client so they can understand the law, and how their case fits into the law. We guide them through the process and make the appropriate recommendations regarding the discrimination case value as well as the associated risks of litigation. Throughout a case, we constantly conduct an analysis of risks vs. benefits. We fight to get the appropriate value for our clients’ discrimination case.

Hire Our Trial Firm to Seek a Fair Settlement or Verdict

How long it takes for a discrimination case can depend on your New York City law firm’s experience and reputation for taking cases to trial. When a significant amount of money is at stake, corporations are likely to put profits ahead of their employees’ or former employees’ well-being. However, our ability and willingness to take cases to trial may prompt your employer to offer a fair settlement. Phillips & Associates represent clients in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, or Nassau County. Call Phillips & Associates at (866) 229-9441 or fill out our online form.

Related Posts
  • A New Expansion of the Statute of Limitations for Discrimination Claims Under the New York State Human Rights Law is Set to Take Effect Feb. 15 Read More
  • New York State Enacts a New Law to Protect Discrimination/Harassment Victims from Contracts that Would Seek to Silence Them Read More
  • Understanding the New York City Law Banning Height and Weight Discrimination Read More