I Have a Mediation at the EEOC. Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have an EEOC mediation with your employer, it is in your best interest to have an experienced New York employment discrimination attorney on your side. Bringing a lawyer to mediation can improve your bargaining power and protect you from giving up your rights. At Phillips & Associates, we are well versed in employment law, and have helped many New Yorkers resolve disputes through EEOC mediation.

What is EEOC Mediation?

If you have been the victim of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, the first step is often to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the federal agency that investigates these kinds of employment claims. Often, the EEOC will attempt to schedule a mediation between the parties (you and your employer) to resolve the dispute without the need for a formal lawsuit. A mediation is a meeting where parties to a dispute can meet either face to face or through a mediator in an attempt to resolve their differences without a lawsuit.

A mediation is different than an arbitration. A mediation is voluntary, and you can choose not to participate; it is simply an attempt to resolve the case informally. On the other hand, an arbitration is a hearing at which the parties present their case to a neutral third party. Arbitrations usually occur when an employee’s contract prevents the parties from filing a lawsuit in the event of a dispute. Because employers write the arbitration clauses, they often reserve the right to choose the arbitrator themselves, which may result in an arbitrator that is sympathetic to employers’ interests. Arbitration clauses are usually binding, meaning you cannot opt out of arbitration. If an arbitration has been scheduled with your employer, it is vital that you seek the advice of an experienced attorney.

Any Agreement You Sign is Binding

In most types of cases, mediations produce non-binding agreements; however, any agreement signed as the result of an EEOC mediation is binding in court. This means that if you attend your EEOC mediation alone, you could sign an enforceable agreement without the advice of counsel. Such an agreement would likely forfeit your right to sue. Therefore, if you are unable to hire an attorney before your mediation, do not sign anything until you have an experienced employment attorney review the agreement.

Mediation May Save Time and Money

There are a few benefits to attending a mediation with an attorney. First, because mediation is one of the most amicable ways to settle a dispute, it is often less stressful than a lawsuit and trial. Further, mediation is binding only if the parties agree on a settlement, so you and your attorney can participate in mediation without worrying that the case might resolve unfavorably.

Additionally, mediation is not subject to the same procedural requirements as a lawsuit. There are not necessarily the same pleadings or motions to file, and parties are not subjected to the discovery process, which is one of the most costly aspects of a lawsuit. Although Phillips & Associates takes employment cases on a contingent fee basis, meaning that you do not pay our firm unless we recover money, parties who resolve a case favorably through mediation generally incur lower costs than parties who win at trial.

Mediation May Reveal Your Employer’s Defense

Even if it does not resolve your case, an EEOC mediation can help your attorney prepare for the upcoming litigation. During the mediation, your employer may offer insight on the strategy and relative strength of its defense. This can help your lawyer anticipate what to expect during litigation and prepare a counter attack. Of course, this is a double-edged sword. If you go into a mediation without an attorney, you may prematurely reveal too much about your case, putting you at a disadvantage. Therefore, it is always safest to have an attorney attend your mediation with you.

Rely on Our Experience

Phillips & Associates’ New York EEOC representation lawyers understand how to collect evidence, navigate the red tape, and present your case at an EEOC mediation. If you have an EEOC mediation scheduled, contact Phillips & Associates online or by phone at (212) 248-7431.