EEOC & TWC Employer Defense in Houston, Texas
Representing Texas Employers in EEOC Complaints
At Hendershot Cowart P.C., we stand up for employers facing employee complaints of discrimination, harassment, whistleblower retaliation, wage and hour violations, and more. If you receive an EEOC charge of discrimination or find yourself the subject of an employment lawsuit, do not hesitate to contact our EEOC and TWC employer defense attorneys in Houston, Texas.
On This Page
- EEOC and TWC Cases We Handle
- What Is the EEOC Complaint Process?
- How Do You Defend Against an EEOC Complaint?
We defend Texas employers under investigation by state and federal agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the United States Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division.
Our Houston-based firm represents the interests of Texas employers in a full range of employment disputes and complaints, including claims of:
- Discrimination – defined as unfavorable treatment due to race, color, religion, national origin, sex (sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy status), disability, age (beginning at age 40), and other protected characteristics.
- Harassment – claims of frequent or severe harassment or quid pro quo sexual harassment.
- Wrongful termination – employers can terminate employees at any time for any reason, as long as the reason is not illegal (based on a protected characteristic or retaliatory).
- Retaliation – accusations of an adverse personnel action against a whistleblower who disclose an alleged violation or crime to any legal or regulatory authority.
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violations – failing to make reasonable accommodations or offer an accessible workplace.
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations – problems with minimum wage, overtime, hours worked, recordkeeping, and child labor.
- Texas Payday Law violations – may arise when an employee is allegedly not paid all wages earned on payday (sometimes due to legitimate delays or deductions).
- Unemployment benefits – employers may have a viable reason to contest a former employee receiving unemployment benefits.
- Collective action defenses – we defend employers facing an aggregation of FLSA claims by employees with similar complaints in similar situations.
- Unfair labor practices – actions taken against employees or unions that are illegal under the National Labor Relations Act and other labor laws.
Hendershot Cowart P.C. provides employer defense against any claim or lawsuit brought by an employee, former employee, or independent contractor. Contact our EEOC and TWC employer defense attorneys for the legal help you need.
The EEOC will notify you within 10 days of receiving an employee complaint. This notice is known as a “Notice of a Charge of Discrimination,” but do not panic. A charge of discrimination does not mean that you have violated the laws that the EEOC enforces; it merely means that the EEOC will gather evidence to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred.
Read the notice carefully and follow the instructions. The notice will likely include a link to the EEOC’s digital charge system, which is an online portal for exchanging updates and information. There, you may be asked to furnish the following in response to a complaint:
- A “position statement” with the organization’s side of the story;
- Personnel policies, personnel files of individuals involved, and any other relevant information;
- Permission to conduct an on-site visit; or
- Contact details for employees available for witness interviews.
Hire a lawyer to help you as soon as possible after being notified of an investigation to help you navigate the early stages of the process, communicate with the EEOC, reduce the costs and burden associated with complying with requests for information, and ultimately reduce the potential for costly mistakes which cannot be undone.
Even if you believe a charge is frivolous, you must respond to EEOC requests for additional information and cooperate with the investigation. The EEOC can subpoena employers who do not comply.
State and federal employment laws often overlap (the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act closely mirrors federal laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment), so the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) may both be involved in an employment discrimination complaint. The EEOC can defer cases to the TWC, but it reserves the right to review a final action by the TWC.
Fortunately, the complaint process is similar at the EEOC and the TWC, and because the state and federal agencies work together, you should only receive one complaint. Additionally, the agencies usually agree on their determinations.
The EEOC can subpoena employers who do not cooperate with investigations. An attorney experienced with regulatory investigations can help you explore options for good-faith negotiations that may help limit requests to ensure investigators receive what they need, while simultaneously protecting your rights and interests.
Even prior to subpoenas, intervention by an attorney can help establish a dialogue with regulators about the scope and direction of an investigation, providing opportunities to structure response strategies, engage in negotiations, and best position employers for a positive outcome.
You may also be able to fast-track resolution of the complaint through EEOC’s confidential mediation process. Participation is not an admission of guilt and gives the employer and employee the opportunity to resolve the situation in a mutually acceptable way. Discuss your legal options with an attorney before moving forward. An experienced labor and employment law attorney can advise you if the charges are best settled early in the process or help you prepare the best arguments for your position statement.
If mediation does not take place or is not successful, the EEOC will conduct its investigation. Many charges of discrimination are quickly dismissed due to lack of merit or expired time limits.
- If the EEOC concludes that no discrimination occurred, it will issue a notice called Dismissal and Notice of Rights. This concludes the EEOC’s investigation, although the employee still retains the right to file a lawsuit in federal court within 90 days of receipt of the notice.
- If the EEOC determines that there is reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred, both parties will receive a Letter of Determination inviting both parties to participate in conciliation. Conciliation is a voluntary and informal dispute resolution process in which employers can negotiate resolutions with employees without an admission of liability.
- If conciliation does not resolve the complaint, EEOC may file a lawsuit in federal court against the employer, especially when discrimination is pervasive or systemic in an organization (the EEOC has limited resources and will generally only file suit when it could have strategic impact); otherwise, EEOC will notify the employee of their right to sue within 90 days.
Employers have many opportunities to avoid litigation and pursue a positive resolution, but they still need attorneys to protect their rights and best interests.
Remember, you cannot fire, demote, or otherwise punish an employee – including even minor actions – for filing a complaint. Even if the EEOC decides the original charge of discrimination is without merit, an underlying retaliation complaint could be a serious charge. This is another reason the guidance of experienced counsel can be critical to resolving the issue quickly.
To get through an EEOC complaint without additional legal trouble, work with our EEOC employer defense attorneys. Our team proudly serves employers in Houston and throughout Texas.
Your written policies and procedures can help you defend your company against an EEOC complaint. You can also have an EEOC complaint dismissed if the employee fails to follow the chain of command and make an internal complaint before getting the EEOC involved.
Cooperating with the EEOC is the best way to defend yourself against an EEOC complaint:
- Submit a position statement to tell your side of the story (your attorney can help you draft it).
- Respond to a request for information and submitting your policies, personnel files, and other relevant information.
- Allow the EEOC investigator to conduct an on-site visit and make the fact-checking process faster.
- Provide the contact information of employees who are available for witness interviews (the EEOC will interview employees with or without your permission).
An experienced attorney can help you cooperate while protecting your best interests – and defend you in an EEOC lawsuit if the determination period does not end in a favorable result.
Hendershot Cowart P.C. has been trusted by individuals, entrepreneurs, and companies of all sizes throughout Texas and the U.S. in a range of complex commercial and regulatory matters. Our team knows that employers have significant concerns when facing administrative action and charges from the EEOC. We are committed to helping you pursue the most favorable result for you and your business.
Our firm values relationships and believes in loyalty to our clients. We want to be your law firm for life and will always strive to exceed your expectations.
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