Step 1: CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY OR THE IDAHO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMMISSION If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age (40 and older) and/or disability, you must file a Complaint with the Idaho Human Rights Commission before you can file an actual lawsuit. Failure to file a complaint with the IHRC may cause you to waive your right to pursue a lawsuit and enforce your legal rights.
Generally, you must file your complaint with the Human Rights Commission within a certain number of days (for most forms of discrimination that means filing a Complaint with 180 days from the date the discrimination occurred). In Idaho, filing a Complaint with the Idaho Human Rights Commission also satisfies your requirement to file with the federal EEOC. The one exception is if you are a federal employee and you want to file a claim against your federal employer, you must file with your Federal Department's EEO Office.
If you are unsure whether you have a valid Complaint, you should usually err on the side of causation and consult with an experienced attorney as soon as you believe discrimination has occurred. An experienced employment attorney can help you evaluate your case and discuss potential remedies and the proper way to preserve your legal rights. Many employment attorneys also prefer to help you through the Human Rights Commission process, and many attorney's prefer to consult with their clients before they file a complaint. An attorney with knowledge of employment laws can be invaluable through this process, and also ensure you protect your rights. However, it is not a legal requirement to have an attorney represent you, and some individuals choose to file their Human Rights Complaint without the assistance of counsel. The Idaho Human Rights Commission also offers a intake questionnaire that you can fill out, and the Human Rights Commission can provide some guidance (although it is important to keep in mind the Human Rights Commission cannot serve as your attorney and cannot offer you legal advice. They can, however, help assist you in filing a formal complaint). The IHRC quesitonaire link can be accessed here: https://www2.labor.idaho.gov/IHRCQ Step 2: WHAT TO INCLUDE Generally, your Complaint should include your full name, address, telephone number, and identify the basis you believed you have been discriminated on (race, age, gender, etc.) Second, you should also identify your employer, including the name of the person or company, an address of where you worked, mailing address for the company, and the name of your boss or supervisor. If you work for a large corporation, it can be helpful to search the Idaho Secretary of State website and find the official registered agent for the discriminating company. The Secretary of State business search can be completed here: https://sosbiz.idaho.gov/search/business
Your Complaint should lay out the basic WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and HOW you allege the discrimination occurred. It is usually best if it is typed on a computer, rather than handwritten. If possible, list witnesses who can corroborate your complaint, and include as much detail as you can remember. As a general matter, timing is extremely important in any employment dispute. It's helpful to state when you began working for the employer, and try to pin down specific dates and set forth the general timeline of events. Whenever possible, make sure to document any instance in which you may have complained to your supervisors or other employees about the discriminatory behavior. If you have written proof (emails/photos/text messages/etc.) you can also attach those documents to your Complaint to prove your case.
Once you have filled out your Complaint, you will need to physically sign the document. You can mail your Complaint to Idaho Commission on Human Rights, 317 West Main Street Boise, ID 83735-0660. You will receive a packet of information back, including waivers and releases of information that you must sign and return to the Idaho Human Rights Commission.
At that time, an investigation into your Complaint will begin. Your employer will have the opportunity to read your Complaint, and respond. Many (if not most) employers will hire legal counsel to formulate the response. Generally the employer is supposed to respond to each and every allegation you made in your original complaint, and many employers will also include documentation to try and refute your allegation of discrimination. You will then get a chance to reply, and include any other documentation you have proving your complaint or demonstrating that the employer's response was inaccurate. After you provide your response, the Idaho Human Rights Commission will investigate the claim, which may take up to 365 days from the date of your initial complaint. In most cases, the Human Rights Commission will make a finding of whether your Complaint has probable cause or not. Regardless of the Commission's finding, they will issue a Notice of Right to Sue, and in order to pursue your claim for discrimination further, you will have to file a lawsuit within 90 days of the Notice. For this reason, it is usually best to have already consulted with experienced legal counsel to help you protect your personal interests.