Employees in New York can sue either in state or federal court or they can also bring claims before local, state and federal agencies. In fact, in order to sue in federal court on a federal law claim, you have to bring a claim first with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the EEOC as we refer to it, will issue you as an employee a right to sue letter so that you can bring your case into court.
Some people opt not to go that route and they will instead file a claim with the New York State Division of Human Rights. The New York State Division of Human Rights will investigate the complaint and will determine if there’s probable cause to go to a hearing. A hearing is very similar to a trial although certain rules of evidence do not apply in that proceeding. As skilled Dutchess County Employment Lawyer, we tell our clients that if you’ve received a complaint from an agency, although it does not mean you are actually in court litigating a claim, you still do need to respond.
The reason is because in those agency proceedings, the employee can get damages against the company for lost pay and benefits, for future lost pay in benefits, they can obtain civil fines and penalties against the company, and in certain circumstances damages in the form of emotional distress or other intangible losses associated with the emotional effects of whatever it is they’re claiming occurred in the workplace.
Finally, if the employee is successful in that agency proceeding, they can actually then sue in federal court for attorney’s fees which could be an additional substantial sum of money that the company could be assessed with.
Are you required to respond a complaint from a former employee? Contact our Dutchess County Employment Lawyer for advice.