Our lawyers in New York who help clients file claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) continue to see a growing number of discrimination cases each year. Despite the existence of numerous federal, state, and local laws prohibiting employment discrimination, employers continue to single out individuals for differential treatment and harassment. At a time when more and more categories of people receive protection from discriminatory treatment, it is important to know what your rights are and how to enforce them.
The EEOC is the agency that oversees the enforcement of federal anti-discrimination laws. In almost all discrimination cases that fall under these laws, the victim must file a charge with the EEOC before being allowed to file a lawsuit in court. GINA (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) all require the filing of a charge with the EEOC first. If you were not hired because of your age, harassed because of your race or fired because you complained about discrimination, the EEOC will be your first step in recovering damages, reinstatement or additional remedies.
It is difficult to know exactly how to proceed with a discrimination case, especially when time is of the essence. It is important that you have an experienced EEOC lawyer working on your behalf and ensuring that you don’t miss deadlines or fail to follow other requirements. Attorneys who have experience handling employment discrimination cases, like the ones at Leeds Brown, can guide you through the EEOC process, present your case and help you to file a lawsuit if that is the best course of action. Our firm consists of dedicated employment lawyers who have recovered millions of dollars in monetary damages for clients in New York and across the country.
The federal anti-discrimination legislation places time limits on filing charges with the EEOC. The general rule is that you have 180 calendar days from the day the discrimination took place. The time is extended to 300 days if “a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis.”
For age discrimination cases, the extension only applies if there is a corresponding state age discrimination law. A local one is not sufficient.
If you are trying to resolve your conflict through a union grievance, arbitration or mediation the deadline for filing a charge will not be extended. You can file a charge and pursue dispute resolution simultaneously.
Discrimination may be such that it occurs once and that single incident is sufficient to file a charge and make a case against your employer. For example, you may be propositioned by your boss, refuse his advances and be fired the same day.
However, there may be more than one discriminatory event. For instance, suppose your supervisor demotes you and two years later terminates your employment. You claim that the employer demoted you and fired you because of your gender or religion. Your claim of discrimination for the firing is the only claim that will be timely because the demotion took place more than 180/300 days prior.
Harassment is behavior that typically occurs on a continual basis. It is behavior that is pervasive and substantial enough as to create a hostile environment for the victim. In a harassment case, you have 180/300 days from the last incident to file your charge. The EEOC will look at all incidents of harassment during their investigation, even if they took place more than 180/300 days before filing.
Calculating days can be tricky. According to the EEOC, you must include holidays and weekends in the calculation of time. The agency looks at calendar days, not business days. However, if the filing deadline lands on a holiday or weekend, you will be able to file the next business day.
Understanding just how much time you have to file a charge is complicated and is best left to an experienced practitioner. If you are unsure, you should contact EEOC attorneys at Leeds Brown as soon as possible. Once we hear the facts of your case, we can ask all of the right questions that will help determine whether you still have time to file a charge and preserve your rights.
As already stated, if you plan to file a lawsuit alleging discrimination under one of the federal laws listed above you must file a charge first. When the EEOC dismisses your charge (for any reason) with or without an investigation, it issues what is called a notice of right to sue. This letter grants you permission to file a lawsuit in court. Once you receive this notice, you have 90 days to file a lawsuit.
You can also request this notice. If more than 180 days have elapsed, the EEOC must provide you with it. If fewer than 180 days have passed, the EEOC will only issue the notice if it will be unable to complete its investigation within 180 days.
There is an exception for age discrimination cases. You don’t need a notice of right to sue to file a lawsuit. You can file a lawsuit anytime after 60 days have passed from the day you filed your charge but no later than 90 days after you receive notice that the investigation is complete.
Under the Equal Pay Act, you don’t have to file a charge with the EEOC before going to court or obtain a notice of right to sue. Instead, you can file a lawsuit within two or three years from the date of discrimination.
Keep in mind that Equal Pay Act claims may overlap with Title VII claims. You may wish to speak to an EEOC attorney to ensure you preserve your opportunity to file a lawsuit under the law that provides you with the most options for a fair outcome.
Are you concerned that you are running out of time to file a discrimination charge? Do you know if you have to do so before filing a lawsuit? Let experienced hands sort it out for you. Lawyers at Leeds Brown have been helping victims of employment discrimination in New York to file charges with the EEOC and subsequent lawsuits for decades. Our knowledge extends to all types of employment discrimination and all areas of employment.
Remember, it is unlawful for an employer covered by Title VII to discriminate against an employee because of their age, gender, race, religion, color, national origin, disability, pregnancy or genetic information. It is also unlawful to harass an employee because of these characteristics. Employers cannot lawfully retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint or charge of discrimination, refusing to participate in it or otherwise trying to stop it.
There is a time limit called a “statute of limitations” in which to file claims. We do know how much time you have left until we speak with you and hear the facts of yours. Time may be of the essence so don’t wait – call now.
Before you do anything, speak with our attorneys at Leeds Brown who regularly practice before the EEOC. File a timely, complete charge with the help of professional and passionate employment lawyers. Contact Leeds Brown at 1-800-585-4658. Someone is here to take your call 24/7.