With any type of lawsuit, there is often a great deal of emotional tumult for the participants. Unless you are an attorney or judge or other administrative personnel associated with the operation of the courts or agencies with adjudicative type functions, the entire process will seem foreign and at times unintelligible.
For instance in a employment discrimination or workplace sexual harassment lawsuit, the employee will be stressed, upset and in some case, traumatize by the actions of their employer. In this position, they are in a less than ideal mindset to deal with the intricacies of filing a "well-pleaded complaint."
Employment law is complex, as it deals with difficult aspects of human behavior and interaction and attempts to encompass the issues raised into a rational process. Intelligent and well-educated individuals can easily make mistakes when filing initial complaints.
A recent Second Circuit case demonstrates this. A woman with a degree from Columbia University worked in the New York City's Administration for Children's Services, as the Director of its Equal Employment Opportunity Office. Seemingly, she would have the background to understand the filing requirements to make a successful harassment claim.
However, the trial court dismissed and the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the dismissal of her sexual harassment claim in her employment discrimination case because she did not include sexual harassment in her claims when she filed her complaint with the EEOC.
We cannot emphasize too strongly the importance of properly following procedure with EEOC claims. If you make a mistake at this point, your right to any redress or compensation on that issue may be lost forever, as claims must be made within 300 days of the occurrence.
Given the many potential mistakes, legal assistance may be essential as early in the process as possible. Many genuine and valid claims are lost because employees have failed to properly assert their rights.
Source: caselaw.findlaw.com, "Dawn F. LITTLEJOHN v. CITY OF NEW YORK," No. 14–1395-cv, August 3, 2015