Workplace discrimination is a pervasive problem that not only lowers morale, but can also lead to greater turnover and reduced productivity. When an employee feels targeted by unfair treatment, whether from being paid less than similarly trained colleagues, disciplined without cause, passed over for a promotion or wrongfully terminated, it is important to know that there are both federal and state laws that protect them.
Where do I file a claim?
If an employee feels that they have been discriminated against at work due to their race, sex, color, religion, age, national origin, disability or genetic information, they can file charges at the federal level through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The filing is required before a discrimination lawsuit may commence. An agency, union or individual may also file this charge on behalf of the injured party.
Because formal discrimination charges are very serious, a staff member will usually hold an interview with individuals who are filing claims in order to assess whether or not the case has merit, or if this is the best route to take for their unique situation.
What are the time limits for filing?
The limit for filing a charge with the EEOC is usually 180 calendar days from the reported incident of discrimination. However, this may be extended to 300 days if there are state or local agencies that also prohibit the employment discrimination on the same basis.
If there has been more than one incident of discrimination, a similar deadline usually applies for each incident reported. In a situation where, for example, the employee has been demoted and then fired, in order for the sequence to have a causal connection, the injured party must file a charge for each incident and within the deadline of each occurrence.
As many states have their own anti-discrimination laws, there are local Fair Employment Practices Agencies, or FEPAs, where individuals may file. By filing a charge with a FEPA, the EEOC will be dual-tracked if the alleged offense triggers federal laws.
What discrimination protections are there in Kentucky?
The Kentucky Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against an employee on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age 40 and over, disability, or because the individual is a smoker or nonsmoker as long as they are compliant with workplace policy.
For Louisville residents, when taking the first important steps toward fighting for your rights, it is important to have an experienced and reputable employment law attorney by your side who will keep your best interests in mind.