How Do I File A Claim?


How do I file a claim in the state of Georgia?


To file a claim of discrimination in Georgia, you will need to file a complaint with the Clerk of Court. The Clerk of Court is located at the courthouse where you will file your complaint. The complaint should be written, filed and date stamped by the Clerk of Court, and a copy of the complaint must be provided to the employer. In most cases, you must file your complaint in the county where your employer's business is located. There will be a fee for filing your claim in state court. This fee varies depending on where you file your complaint.



Against whom can I file a claim?


You may file a claim against any person who discriminated against you at work, as well as your employer.



How much time do I have to file a claim?


The statute of limitations in Georgia for these types of claims is two years.



If I choose to file a claim, what is expected of me?


You will be expected to respond to the court's requests and your employer's requests, as well as appear in court for all hearings and for the trial.



How long will the process take?


Once you file your complaint with the Clerk of Court, your case will be put on a trial schedule. Depending on how busy the court is, this could take months or even years.



Do I need an attorney?


The decision to hire an attorney is up to you. By law, all Georgia citizens are entitled to represent themselves in court. However, it is common for people who represent themselves in court to lose because they do not understand the courtroom procedures. For this reason, it is recommended that an individual seek advice or representation from an attorney, as it could make the difference between winning and losing a case.



What if I can't afford an attorney?


In some cases, you may qualify for free or reduced-fee legal assistance. This assistance may come from organizations such as the Atlanta Legal Aid, Georgia Legal Services, or a local Pro Bono Project. It is also possible that you may be able to find a list of attorneys willing to provide services based on a sliding scale related to your income. If you are interested in finding such a list, contact the court clerk.



What happens after I submit my claim?


This will vary depending on where you file your claim (which is called a "complaint.) It is best to ask the Clerk of Court about the process in the district where you filed your complaint. In some courts, statutes dictate the timeframe in which cases are placed on a trial calendar. In other courts, cases are scheduled for trial in relation to when your employer files a response to your claim. Furthermore, a case may be scheduled for trial following a request by one or more of the parties for a certain date. It is advised that you contact the clerk of court to determine how your case will be scheduled.


You and your employer will be notified of the scheduled dates either by mail from the court or by the opposing party. Another notification method is for the court to publish a trial calendar in a particular newspaper to ensure that all involved parties are notified. In this type of situation, you may not receive a mailed notice. Contact the clerk to learn how you will receive notification.



Can I file a federal claim of employment discrimination as well?


Yes, you can also file a federal claim of employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These claims are filed with the EEOC.



How do I file a claim with the EEOC?


A claim of employment discrimination must be filed within 180 days of the last incident of discrimination. It can be filed in person or by mail with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
1801 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20507
Phone: (202) 663-4900
TTY: (202) 663-4494
To be connected to your nearest Field Office, call:
Phone: 1-800-669-4000
TTY: 1-800-669-6820



Against whom can I file a claim?


A claim under Title VII can be filed against your employer.



If I choose to file a claim, what is expected of me?


Be prepared to include the following information with your claim:
(1) your name, address, phone number;
(2) a brief description of the events, including dates;
(3) name, address, phone number of your employer;
(4) number of employees.



How long will the process take?


The process can be lengthy, although it depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. Together with the investigation period and the court proceedings, the process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years.



Do I need an attorney?


You do not need an attorney to file a claim with the EEOC.



Where do I find an attorney?


If you decide to file a claim in court, you can contact your local bar association to find an attorney. The State Bar of Georgia can direct you to a local bar association.



Do I have to contact the EEOC?


If you are filing a claim under Title VII, you must go through the EEOC first. For an Equal Pay Act claim, however, you do not need to file with the EEOC first. You can go straight to court.



What happens after I submit my claim?


After you file your claim, the EEOC will investigate the claim. The investigation will include an examination of written files, requests for information, interviews, and visits to the site of the alleged discrimination.



What happens if the investigators determine that no "reasonable" or "probable" cause exists on which to base a claim?


If the investigators determine that there is no "reasonable" or "probable" cause on which they can base a claim of discrimination, they will notify you of this and they will then issue a notice that closes the case and gives you 90 days to file a lawsuit on your own behalf.



What happens if the investigator determines that "reasonable" or "probable" cause exists on which to base a claim?


If the investigation does determine that enough evidence exists to sustain a claim, the EEOC will make an attempt at conciliation, mediation, or settlement with your employer. If this is successful, neither party can go to court unless the agreement is breached. If this is unsuccessful, you will receive a "right to sue" letter, which means you can file a claim in court on your own, or where evidence is ample, the EEOC may file a suit.



What is a "right to sue" letter?


A "right to sue" letter is your notification that you have exhausted the administrative procedures, meaning that you have gone through the EEOC and, for whatever reason, an agreement was not reached. The letter gives you 90 days to file a claim in court to sue your employer directly.



Can I appeal a decision of the Commission?


Yes. Once the EEOC administrative judge has made a ruling, the agency has 40 days to issue a final order. This means they will either agree or disagree with the judge's ruling. If you disagree with the final order, you can file an administrative appeal. More information about your right to appeal will be included in the final order. You need to file your appeal within 30 days, unless you can show circumstances that prevented you from filing.



What if I don't want to sue?


An alternative to suing is arbitration, a form of mediation that is enforced by the courts. You are required to submit the application for arbitration to the Superior Court in your county. After receiving your application, the Court will appoint an arbitrator to oversee the agreement on the court's behalf. Both you and your employer will also choose at least one arbitrator (usually your attorney) to represent your interests.


These individuals will, in essence, have an informal trial, complete with witnesses, depositions and other evidence, until they can come to an agreement. This agreement, once signed by all parties and submitted to the Court, is binding on you and your employer.



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