Do You Think Your Employer Has Discriminated Against You?

Posted almost 5 years ago. 4 helpful votes



Do I have a claim?

First and foremost, you have to determine if your employer took an adverse employment action against you. Luckily in New York, the courts have read this fairly broadly. Adverse employment actions include the obvious ones of termination, being passed over for promotion or not being hired. However, there are a number of actions which courts have held to be adverse employment actions: removal of secretarial help, decline in benefits, isolated into a remote part of an office. Obviously, none of these things are per se illegal. They are illegal if the reason is a prohibited reason.


What are some prohibited reasons?

Again, prohibited reasons can be different based upon which jurisdiction you seek redress. Under Federal Law, such prohibited reasons are: race, sex, national origin, color, religion, age, disability or pregnancy. While New York State protects people from adverse employment actions based upon these items, New York State law is also more expansive. New York Law prohibits adverse actions based upon sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition, while New York State prohibits discrimination based upon disability, the law defines it much more expansively than federal law does. Some of the statutes are: Federal Law: Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), Age Employment Discrimination Act (ADEA), Civil Rights Act of 1990, Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and State Law: Executive Law section 296.


What actions must I take under Federal Law?

Generally speaking, you have to file a complaint within 300 days in New York on your federal claims with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission...the EEOC is the federal agency that investigates these claims). That is 300 days from the adverse employment action or 300 days after you should have reasonably discovered it. After you file, you have to give the New York State office that investigates employment discrimination claims 60 days to resolve the matter before the EEOC takes over. Then the EEOC has 180 days to do its investigation. It may take 180 days or shorter or longer to do its investigation. However, after those 180 days, the law entitles you to a "right to sue" letter whether the EEOC has finished its investigation, found no probable cause or did find probable cause.


What actions must I take under Federal Law - cont'd?

Once the EEOC gives you that right to sue letter, you have 90 days to actually sue on the federal claims. The astute observer will notice a quirk in the law. While a person must file the complaint within 300 days, the 60 day deferral to the state agency means that a person must actually file a complaint with the EEOC within no more than 240 days to make sure the filing is timely. For example, if a person were to file on day 241 after the alleged adverse action, (though less than 300 days since the action) because the state agency gets 60 days to finish its inquiry, even if the employee were to file with the EEOC on the day of the 60 expiration, that would be 301 days after the incident making it untimely. In that instance, the employee could seek early termination of the state inquiry, but it is not good to count on this.


What actions must I take under Federal Law - cont'd?

Finally, and thankfully, the state of New York and the EEOC have a "work-sharing" agreement whereby a filing with one constitutes a filing with the other, so many of these time deadlines, particularly with respect to the 60-day deferral are less meaningful. One final note. These deadlines apply to claims made under Title VII and the ADA. They do not apply under the ADEA (Age Discrimination). For those cases, one can file with the EEOC directly and the time limit for investigation is 60 days and you do not need the right to sue letter but can go ahead and bring a suit after that. However, the bottom line is this: if you believe you are the victim of discrimination, speak with an attorney asap or file a complaint with the EEOC or the New York State Division of Human Rights (websites below).

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