If you believe that you have been a victim of discrimination in the workplace due to a protected characteristic such as race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability, you can take action against your employer by filing a Charge of Discrimination (COD) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In most cases, filing a charge with the EEOC is required before pursuing a civil lawsuit against your employer. It is important to note, however, that a COD must be filed within a certain amount of time after the alleged instance of discrimination to be valid.
Generally speaking, a COD must be filed within 180 days of the date of the discriminatory action, though this deadline can be extended to 300 days if a state or local agency enforces a law prohibiting employment discrimination in the same fashion. In instances where the discrimination is in regards to a person’s age, this deadline will only be extended if a state agency enforces a state law prohibiting age discrimination. Local laws, however, will not warrant an extension. These deadlines include holidays and weekends, though if a deadline falls on either of these, you will be allowed to file until the end of the next business day.
What if More than One Instance of Discrimination Occurred?
Unless you are alleging ongoing harassment within the workplace, a COD must be filed for each separate case of discrimination. For example, if you were demoted due to a protected characteristic and then fired one year later for the same reason, filing a COD on the date of your firing would only warrant an investigation regarding your termination instead of both your firing and demotion.
Special Considerations for Equal Pay Act Claims
If you believe you have been discriminated against in terms of your wages and benefits for reasons ofgender, the Equal Pay Act allows you to file a lawsuit without the need to file a COD. These types of cases must be filed within two years of receiving your last discriminatory paycheck. Since these cases often also warrant filing a claim under Title VII, it may be wise to file a COD anyway to maintain your eligibility to pursue a Title VII claim as well.
Overall, these different deadlines and special rules can easily become extremely complex, making it crucial for you to consult with an experienced employment lawyer in the event that you should ever be discriminated against. If you are looking to file a discrimination lawsuit against your employer or need assistance filing a Charge of Discrimination, a highly knowledgeable Houston employment lawyer from Moore & Associates can walk you through the appropriate legal processes and protect your rights in a court of law. Having represented countless clients since 2001, we are fully equipped with the skills and extensive knowledge to maximize your chances of securing a desirable outcome for your situation.
To get started, contact our office online or give us a call today at (713) 581-9001.