Best Employment Discrimination Attorney Answers: How long do I have to file a discrimination lawsuit against my former employer? Are there different time limits for my wrongful termination claims state court versus federal court? Are the time limitations the same for all discrimination claims?
There are a lot of reasons to procrastinate when thinking about bringing an employment discrimination or suing your employer from wrongful termination. Maybe, you want to spend your time focusing on getting a new job. It could be that you are busy with other things in life. Or, maybe, you just are not ready to emotionally deal with your boss’s sexual harassment. However, employment discrimination claims, just like milk, come with an expiration date. And, just like spoiled milk, if you wait too long to bring the claim, it will make you sick to your stomach when you realize that there is no longer anything that you can do to hold your boss, manager or supervisor accountable for their unlawful discriminatory practices.
With that in mind, here is a quick and informative refresher from our employment discrimination lawyers on some of the basic information you should know prior to thinking about pursuing a discrimination lawsuit against a current or former employer. Oftentimes, the first and most critical thing to remember is how long you have to pursue your lawsuit, because if you wait too long, you will not get a second chance.
A discrimination claim can be filed either with a state administrative agency, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) or a federal administrative agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You don’t have to file a claim with both agencies because usually the claim will automatically be “cross-filed” between the two agencies if applicable. Filing with one of these agencies is not necessarily required and may not be beneficial to your claim. It is best to consult with an attorney before doing either. As our employment attorneys previously blogged statistics demonstrate that not only is the EEOC an incredible slow process and difficult to navigate on your own after filing, but the EEOC only pursues less than one out of every thousand charges that are filed.
Importantly, filing with the OCRC is not required to pursue a state-law discrimination claim directly in state or federal court. However, the exception is age discrimination cases. Filing an age discrimination claim with the OCRC will prevent you from pursuing an Ohio age discrimination claim in court. In some cases, filing with the EEOC in Ohio will also prevent you from pursuing those age discrimination as well. This is because Ohio’s age discrimination laws have an “election of remedies” provision that requires you to choose between an administrative (OCRC) claim or a private lawsuit.
If you file a discrimination claim with the OCRC or EEOC, there are strict time limits in which charges of employment discrimination must be filed. In order for the OCRC to act on your behalf, you must file with the OCRC (or cross-file with the EEOC) within 180 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. To preserve your claim under federal law, you must file with the EEOC (or cross-file with the state agency) within 300 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. Either way, you should first consult with an attorney because if you have other claims with shorter time-limits it will impact whether you want to file your claims sooner or later.
If you file your OCRC or EEOC charge(s), there are a few important things to remember. The EEOC must first issue what is called a “Dismissal and Notice of Rights” or “Notice of Right to Sue” before you can file a private lawsuit based upon your federal claim. A lawsuit based on your federal discrimination claim must be filed in federal or state court within 90 days of the date you receive the notice. If you wait past that date, your federal discrimination claims will be waived.
State discrimination laws and lawsuits in state court work differently. First and foremost, a lawsuit based on your state discrimination claim must be filed within six years of the date you believe you were discriminated against, except for age discrimination claims, which must be filed within 180 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against (in most circumstances). These deadlines are called the “statute of limitations.”
Do you have a question about discrimination in the workplace? If you are searching “I need a lawyer because I have been wrongfully fired or terminated;” or “I have been discriminated against based on my …” race, national origin, gender, age, religion or disability; or even think that you might need an employment lawyer, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
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