(If you are a Federal employee, please see Discrimination Claims for Federal Employees.)
Before bringing a claim against your employer (or former employer) for discrimination, the law requires that you file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC (See EEOC Charge Filing) or relevant state agency. If you live or work in Maryland, you should file at the EEOC’s Baltimore field office or through the Maryland Commission on Human Rights. If you live or work in the District of Columbia, you should file at the EEOC’s Washington field office or through the DC Office of Human Rights. If you live or work in Virginia, you also file at the EEOC’s Washington field office or through the Virginia Human Rights Council.
You must file the claim within 300 days of the incident about which you are complaining. For example, if you have evidence your termination was motivated by illegal discrimination, you must file the claim within 300 days of the date you were notified of the termination.
Although the charge-filing process is set up for non-lawyers, it can be important to have an attorney experienced in employment law review the facts of your case and advise you on the charges to file and what evidence to offer to the investigating officer.
Once your charge is accepted by the EEOC (or relevant state agency), that Agency will investigate it. You will be asked to provide all of your evidence and a list of people who might be able to provide useful testimony and evidence. Eventually, you will also be asked to respond to any defenses offered by the employer to your charge. At some point in the process, you may be invited to participate in a mediation aimed at resolving the claim. The investigation will take six months or more to complete.
When the EEOC (or relevant state agency) has completed the investigation, it will reach a determination and, in most cases, issue a “Right to Sue” letter. Read this letter carefully. You have ninety days to file your case in court or lose your right to do so. The deadline is not flexible. Once you have the right to sue letter, you should immediately seek the help of an attorney experienced in discrimination cases to review your charges and the evidence and advise you on bringing your case to court.
For guidance in your discrimination matter, please feel free to contact us.