Filing an Employment Discrimination Claim
If you experienced employment discrimination, you may be able to sue your employer for reinstatement with back pay, or for money damages. But first, you generally must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In West Virginia, attorney Kay Bayless can advise you on your options and help you through the process of filing with the EEOC. We can also represent you in settlement negotiations with your employer or in any litigation you choose to pursue.
Filing with the EEOC
If your discrimination claim is one that is enforced by the EEOC, you must file a Charge of Discrimination before you can file a lawsuit. This procedure applies to any claim for race, religion or gender discrimination under Title VII, as well as age discrimination claims under the ADEA or disability discrimination under the ADA. If you have a claim under the Equal Pay Act, however, you have the option of going straight to court and skipping the EEOC if you want.
For claims in West Virginia, you can file the Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office or the Pittsburgh Area Office. Charges can be filed in person or by mail. You can initiate the process online or over the phone, but you can’t actually file a charge that way.
Your timeframe for filing a Charge of Discrimination is 180 days from the day the discrimination took place, or 300 days if the workplace discrimination is also prohibited by the West Virginia Human Rights Commission. This will be the case most of the time, but you should find out for sure during the first 180 days, to make sure your claim is timely. If the discrimination is ongoing, such as in the case of sexual harassment in a hostile work environment, you have 180 (or 300) days from the last incident of harassment.
After your charge is filed, the next step is sometimes mediation. If mediation is not requested, or if it is tried and fails, then the EEOC normally conducts an investigation into the matter. After their investigation is finished, they will either attempt a voluntary settlement with the employer, sue the employer themselves, or issue you a Notice of Right to Sue.
If you receive a Right to Sue letter, it may mean that that the EEOC did not find a violation of the law, or that they did find a violation but chose not to enforce it for any number of reasons. Either way, you are now free to pursue the matter in federal district court, if you choose.
Filing an Employment Discrimination Claim in West Virginia
The West Virginia Human Rights Act also prohibits employment discrimination and covers many of the same areas as Title VII and other federal laws. If you choose, you can file your charge at the state level with the West Virginia Human Rights Commission in Charleston. The types of discrimination covered are slightly different, and you have somewhat longer to file in West Virginia – 365 days instead of 300 – so there may be advantages to filing with the HRC instead of EEOC.
Where the EEOC and HRC both apply, regardless of which agency you file with, they will automatically dual-file your claim with their counterpart agency.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation for Your West Virginia Employment Discrimination Claim
Attorney Kay Bayless has tried and settled hundreds of claims involving employment discrimination in West Virginia. For advice and assistance with your discrimination claim, from analyzing your claim and deciding how to file, all the way through litigating the case in court if necessary, we are here to fight for your rights to fair treatment in the workplace. In southern West Virginia, contact the Bayless Law Firm in Princeton for a free initial consultation.