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Can I file lawsuit in federal court for Employee Discrimination? Must I file w/EEOC first as a requirement?

Bellevue, WA |

I believe I have a case for Employee Discrimination under the federal law however I was unaware that I had to file anything with the EEOC until that deadline had passed. Does this bar me from filing a lawsuit? Or can I still file a lawsuit even if I did not file w/EEOC? If yes within what timeframe would I need to do that before statute of limitations expire?

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Attorney answers 4


You should consult with an experienced employment attorney in your area. You can locate one via the Find a Lawyer tab on Avvo or your local State Bar organization. In general, you must file an EEOC claim as part of your administrative remedies before filing suit. However, depending on your circumstances, there may be state claims that could be filed or the statute of limitations on your federal claims may have been tolled. All would depend on a full consultation so an attorney can review all of the facts.


If you want to file under federal law, you have to file with the EEOC first. Under Washington state law, which is generally very good for employees, you can go directly to superior court and file suit.
-Alex J. Higgins


If you are alleging race discrimination (or in some cases national origin discrimination), you may have a claim under another federal statute, 42 U.S.C. 1981, that allows you to file a claim of discrimination without going to the EEOC first. It is very complicated, but don't give up! Contact an experienced employment attorney in your area ASAP! Best of luck to you.

This answer is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice. You should be aware that no attorney-client relationship is established through this answer and none will be established without a personal consultation and the signing of an engagement agreement.


If the discrimination e.g. retaliation or one that is in the protected class that you are claiming is ongoing and continuous, then your deadline may not have passed. You still may have a federal cause of action under a 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1981 or 1983 claim, neither which would require that you file with the EEOC.

This answer is predicated on the facts provided in which the lawyer cannot confirm or verify. I do not represent you as we do not have an attorney-client relationship.