How long do I have to file a charge of discrimination?
The short answer is “it depends.” Generally speaking, under federal law you have 300 days from the date of the last “adverse employment action,” including your termination, to pursue a claim. Under Florida law the deadline is extended out to 365 days. But, it is important to remember that before pursuing a sexual harassment or discrimination claim under either federal or Florida law, you must first file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and/or the Florida Commission on Human Relations (“FCHR”).
Federal laws protect you from acts of discrimination
Luckily, there are federal laws in place to protect employees who’ve suffered discrimination in the workplace.
Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”): Prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It also prohibits retaliation for complaining about illegal discrimination.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”: Protects individuals age 40 and older from discrimination.
Title I and Title V of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (collectively “ADA”): Prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments.
Florida Civil Rights Act (“FCRA”): Makes it unlawful to discharge, fail or refuse to hire, or discriminate in “compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment” based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, or marital status. Like its federal counterpart, the FCRA also protects employees from retaliation for complaining about illegal discrimination.
Both Title VII and FCRA claims have similar requirements, and similar (but not identical) remedies. However, before filing a lawsuit against your employer for sexual harassment and/or discrimination under either federal or Florida law, you must first file a “Charge of Discrimination” with either the Florida Commission on Human Relations (“FCHR”), or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).
What you need to know about filing your charge of discrimination
If you’re considering filing a “Charge of Discrimination” against your employer, be aware that there are certain timeframes and guidelines you must follow.
- Charges for violation of federal law, including Title VII, must be filed within 300 days from the date of the last adverse employment action.
- Charges for claims brought under the FCRA must be filed within 365 days.
- Claims that may be viable under federal law may be procedurally barred under the FCRA, and vice versa.
- In Florida a “workshare agreement” between the EEOC and FCHR contains a “dual filing” provision, meaning that a Charge filed with one agency is generally considered filed with the other.
Once a Charge is filed, then either the EEOC or FCHR begin investigating the allegations contained in the Charge. The results obtained by a Charging Party from EEOC and FCHR investigations vary greatly.
Typically, after 180 days you may file suit provided that the EEOC has issued a right-to-sue letter. If you believe that you have a claim for sexual harassment, illegal discrimination, or retaliation, please contact one of our attorneys today to ensure your rights are protected.