The amount of time you have depends on the type of discrimination you encountered. It’s also important to note that with discrimination cases, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) only handles claims on employers with 15 or more employees, with the exception of age discrimination, in which case it’s 20 or more employees.
As a general rule with the EEOC, you have 180 calendar days to file from the date the discriminatory act occurred. However, this deadline increases to 300 days if a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis.
Such is the case in the State of Florida, where you dual file a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) and the EEOC within 300 days of the discriminatory act. The FCHR is the state agency which enforces state laws that make discrimination illegal. The EEOC and the FCHR have a “work-sharing agreement,” meaning they cooperate when processing claims.
That said, to timely file your claim under Florida law, you have to file with the FCHR (or cross-file with the EEOC) within one year of when you experienced workplace discrimination. Under federal legislation, you have to file with the EEOC (or cross-file with the FCHR) within 300 days of when you were discriminated against. In order to file under both state and federal law, follow the shorter time frame- 300 days- and make sure that charge is filed before the 300 deadline.
But you must specify to either the EEOC or the FCHR that you intend to “cross-file” the claim with the other agency. It’s always a good idea to check with an attorney who may advise you to file with both agencies because state and federal administrative processes affect your ability to file a state claim differently. The FCHR has a downloadable employment discrimination questionnaire on its website, which provides more information on the guidelines.
With the EEOC, the filing deadline for age discrimination is also extended to 300 days if there is a state law prohibiting it in employment and a state agency that enforces that law (both of which are the case in Florida). ou can dual file if you are covered under both state and federal law. But again, you may file with the FCHR if your employer has less than 20 employees and does not meet the filing threshold for the federal law.
Unlike private sector employees, federal employees have a different claim process, but their deadline for contacting the EEOC is generally 45 days. However, there are certain cases in which that deadline can be extended.
Other Factors to Consider
You should file with the EEOC first, even if you attempt to resolve a dispute through an internal grievance procedure, a union grievance, arbitration, or mediation. The time limits mentioned above will typically not be extended by while you pursue your claims in another forum, so it’s best to pursue them concurrently.
In addition, weekends and holidays are factored into the EEOC’s filing timeframe; although if the filing deadline occurs on a weekend or holiday, you have until the following business day. Regardless, the statute of limitations for employment cases are shorter than in many other areas of the law.
At Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., we protect employee rights, and we can help you determine how and when to file a wrongful termination claim. Please access our Wrongful Termination: When Firing Is Illegal ebook today or call us to schedule your free consultation.