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Discrimination claim payments increase for federal agencies

Federal agencies have paid more money in discrimination case settlements in 2012 than any previous year, and exceeded the total from 2005, which had been the previous top year for payouts.

According to one analysis, it appears the number of larger lump sum settlements have increased. The agencies may be using the strategy to quickly end some discrimination cases to avoid expensive and lengthy Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) proceedings.

For the agencies, the advantage, in addition to circumventing the cost of investigating and defending an EEOC case, is that they can limit the risk of a substantial payout to an employee if they lose their case and the EEOC imposes a significant penalty.

The total number of settlements fell, but the number of cases where damages were received by the employee increased to 13.8 percent. Lump-sum payouts also increased to $29 million, which was almost a 20 percent increase from the previous year.

Any employee bringing a discrimination claim of any kind against their agency needs to be prepared to marshal a substantial amount of evidence of the discrimination if they hope to obtain monetary settlement.

EEOC claims also have specific procedural steps that must be followed, with filing deadlines and notice requirements, and you could potentially jeopardize your claim if you fail to follow these procedures.

Because of the demanding level of evidence required, a federal employee may wish to discuss their facts with an attorney who can assess their situation. The attorney can explain how they should document the difficulties they are experiencing in a way that best preserves the evidence they would need in order to bring an EEOC discrimination claim.

Federaltimes.com, "Agency payouts in discrimination cases hits 10-year high," Andy Medici, September 24, 2014

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