When can you file a claim for employment discrimination?

Experiencing discrimination at work can be demoralizing and frustrating. Whether you experience inappropriate behaviors, comments or more, you may wonder about your options to file a complaint.

Federal and Texas laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace against protected statuses, including based on gender, age, race, disability, religion, nationality and more. When you experience unlawful actions from a coworker, supervisor, customer or more, you need to know your rights to move forward.

Checking the policies of your employer

In some cases, you may feel comfortable confronting the offending individual directly. However, whether you feel uncomfortable doing this or your actions go ignored, your next step should include checking your employee handbook to determine company policy to report the incident to a supervisor.

Filing a charge of employment discrimination with the EEOC

Whether you feel uncomfortable addressing the incident with your employer or your employer failed to take appropriate action, you may file a charge of employment discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to the EEOC, the time limits to file a charge generally are:

  • 180 calendar days since the date of the last discriminatory incident
  • 300 calendar days since the incident if Texas or local law also prohibits the employment discrimination
  • 45 calendar days for federal employees or job applicants

You may take up to 180 or 300 days to file your complaint. However, doing so as soon as possible can help to thoroughly investigate the claim. The Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) Civil Rights Division or the EEOC can clarify the deadline for you.

In some situations, you may have endured more than one incident to report. The EEOC uses the example of an employee experiencing both a demotion and termination, yet one year apart. If the employee complains 180 or 300 days after the termination, the agency will only investigate the termination, rather than both events.

This changes slightly when the discrimination or harassment is ongoing. In such cases, even though you will file your complaint based on the last incident, the agency will investigate all related incidents.

Each employee deserves a safe workplace free from offensive, unlawful actions. Take note of key deadlines and write down details of the incident to file a timely, comprehensive complaint.

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