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Free Court-Appointed Attorneys
just, the court may appoint an attorney for such complainant and may authorize the
commencement of the action without the payment of fees, cost, or security.
Court Clerk when you file a law suit at a U.S. District Court.
If you decide to file a civil action, and if you do not have or cannot afford the services of an
attorney, you may request from the Court that the Court appoint an attorney to represent you
and that the Court also permit you to file the action without payment of fees, costs, or other
security. See Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et
seq.; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. §§ 791, 794(c). The grant or
denial of the request is within the sole discretion of the Court. Filing a request for an
attorney with the Court does not extend your time in which to file a civil action. Both the
request and the civil action must be filed within the time limits as stated in the paragraph
above ("Right to File A Civil Action").
U.S. District Court, in lieu of requesting an administrative EEOC hearing; or within 90 days of
receiving Final Agency Decision or OFO appeal decision.
or who is represented by a non-lawyer) are compensable. Hafiz, supra. Costs must be proved in
the same manner as fees are, and the complainant must provide documentation, such as bills or
receipts." EEOC Management Directive MD-110, Chapter 11, V, D.
Dealing with Attorneys
at the court. In other words, you must exhaust the administrative remedy. Anyone can
represent you at the administrative proceedings. You don't need a lawyer to file at EEOC or
state agencies investigating discriminations. (See EEOC process for private employment
discrimination cases; and see the federal EEO process for federal employment
There are more attorneys representing the employers than ones representing the
complainants. This is so because generally it is more lucrative to represent the employer
than to represent the employee. Federal agencies have their own in-house lawyers on
payroll to defend themselves when cases are filed at the EEOC for hearing. See EEOC
Those few attorneys who represent the complainants, they may charge anywhere between
$10,000 or more for an EEOC hearing and a lot more for trial at federal district court.
(Typical hourly fees for attorneys are between $175 to $450 per hour. In LA, California, one
law firm charges anywhere between $200 and $600 per hour. The hourly rate for their law
clerks, paralegal assistants and consultants range from $145 to $210. Moreover, each
email, fax, and phone call may be charged by minutes as well.) Very few attorneys offer a
flat fee for a service. (If attorneys charge by hour, there is incentive to drag the case longer
on the part of the attorneys.) If a settlement is reached, attorney may claim 50% or more on
the total monetary settlement proceeds. Read the contract with your attorney very carefully
and do not be afraid to negotiate the specific contract terms. But, needless to say, you want
to have a good working relationship with your attorney. (See a sample of an actual attorney
Many cases are settled or dropped before ever reaching a hearing. This is generally so
because preparing for the pre-hearing and the hearing is labor intensive; and for that
reason, many lawyers and judges want to avoid the hearing. Many judges (who are
overloaded with cases) want to render a summary judgment on the case without holding a
hearing. Without a successful opposition to Agency's or employer's motion for a summary
judgment, your case may summarily be dismissed without ever reaching 'a day in the court.'
fattening his or her wallet. Be aware of deadlines and documents being not submitted to
the judge or to the agency/employer as they should.
regarding your pending EEO case, if you are represented by an attorney. All
communication should go through your representative. However, you should respond to
agency's or employer's business or personnel decisions or notices involving yourself, via
your attorney or not. For example, if your agency or employer requires you to report to return
to work or to provide medical note certifying further leave, you should respond via your
attorney or not. Failure to do so (because your attorney did not, or did not want to, for some
reason) may cause your termination. Blaming your attorney later for not contacting the
agency or employer may be too late. You must be in charge of the situation. Don't rely too
much on your attorney.
violated the court rules or professional ethics rules. A well documented threat to report
unethical conducts to such a board regarding your lawyer may cause him or her to
reimburse the fee (partly or whole). Just as dealing with the agency or employer, you want
to document everything when dealing with your lawyer.
think. In reality HR department exists to minimize the agency's or employer's risk or
liability. It usually functions as a risk management team. Many HR departments ignore or
suppress discrimination complaints, or, if a complaint is filed, try to justify the
management's decision against you.
In many cases reporting to HR may trigger a retaliation or may set a trap in motion to
jeopardize your employment, contrary to its stated policy. However, it is usually good to
report to your HR when there is a discrimination or retaliation (for filing a discrimination
complaint). Do it in writing with your signature and date. And don't expect any satisfactory
resolution or help regarding your complaint.
As already said, when you report or complaint a discrimination to HR, do it in writing. If
writing is discouraged or inappropriate at the time of reporting, submit a follow up letter
summarizing your allegation of discrimination and what was said by HR in response to
your complaint. This could serve as a valuable evidence later on. When you report, be
sure to mention the D or R word: discrimination or retaliation. When mentioning
discrimination, you should also mention the 'bases' of discrimination. They are: race, age,
sex, disability, color, ethnicity, national origin, and/or retaliation/reprisal. See How To Write
What HR says in response to your complaint is as important as what you say to HR, as HR
is obligated to promptly and thoroughly investigate the charge of discrimination and, if true,
to put an end to the practice of discrimination (including harassment). Therefore, keep a
good record of your interaction with HR or with your management regarding discrimination
issues. HR will not and cannot ignore a good paper trail.
All statements contained in this page are subject to change and update. EEO 21 does not take responsibility for
any errors or misrepresentation contained therein.
|Advice on Attorney Fees, Attorneys, and HR