Generally, an employment law claim will start with either a letter to the employer, demanding relief, or a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is a prerequisite to filing a discrimination claim in federal court. Once the EEOC charge is filed, there’s a period of several months during which an investigation is done.
After its investigation, it will issue what’s called a Right to Sue letter, which gives you the right to file a lawsuit against your employer in federal court. Most cases are not resolved at the EEOC level, and most will proceed to litigation if your lawyer thinks you have a valid claim.
Once the lawsuit is filed, there will be long periods of relative inactivity during which the lawyers are filing documents or responding to discovery requests. There are other periods that will require your time and effort in answering interrogatories, gathering documents, meeting with your lawyer to prepare for the depositions, and then, being deposed in depositions. This process can take a year or more between the time the suit is filed and the time the lawsuit is actually tried before a jury.
Most cases—over 90 percent of all cases—settle someplace in this process before a trial is actually conducted. If your case doesn’t settle and it proceeds to trial, you can expect to spend several days in court while you and your attorney try your case.