Why it’s Worth Pursuing a Federal Discrimination Lawsuit Against Your Employer

Being the victim of employment discrimination is a terrible position to be in. You depend on your job for income, and no matter how bad things get, it may be difficult to get a new job. Sometimes speaking up can have dire consequences that lead to more discrimination and it’s intimidating thinking about filing a lawsuit even when it’s justified.

Unfortunately, thousands of people find themselves in this sticky situation each day, especially women. While the idea of pursuing legal action can be intimidating, it’s worth the effort simply because you can’t afford not to.

If you’re being discriminated against, it’s only a matter of time before your job becomes unbearable and takes a toll on your mental health. An overload of stress will affect your ability to take care of yourself, your family, and you might be tempted to cope with drugs and alcohol.

For your own health and wellbeing, it’s crucial to pursue legal remedy when you’ve been the victim of discrimination. Discriminatory employers count on employees staying silent while they continue their illegal practices. Your action could end company-wide discrimination.

Regardless, discrimination is illegal and you shouldn’t let your employer get away with it.

Discrimination is federally illegal

Although workplace discrimination is illegal, it’s a huge problem in the United States. More than 1 million complaints have been made to the government since 2010.

Multiple federal laws make certain types of discrimination illegal. The main protection comes from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, color, or national origin. Additional federal protective acts include:

  • The Equal Pay Act (1963)
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (1967)
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (1978)
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990)
  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (2008)

All of these laws were created to protect minorities from discrimination, but they apply to everyone, even non-minorities. Discrimination is discrimination and it’s federally illegal.

Local counties also have anti-discrimination laws on the books that expand on Federal law. For example, in Baltimore County, Maryland it’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, physical or mental handicap, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, creed, or marital status.

Local counties and cities are required to follow Federal law, but often enact their own anti-discrimination laws to expand protection to additional classes of people.

You can help stop unlawful, rampant workplace discrimination

If you’re being discriminated against, it’s likely others are, too. Employers will only discriminate as long as they can get away with it. Many people are afraid to speak up. Your willingness to pursue legal action could be the action that ends discrimination against yourself and your coworkers.

Discrimination claims must go through the EEOC

The difficulty is that you can’t just file a discrimination lawsuit against your employer without going through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). To file a lawsuit, you must file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC within 180 days of the discriminatory incident. The time limit is 300 days for disability discrimination claims. The EEOC will review your case and do one of three things:

  • Invite you and your employer into a mediation session
  • Investigate your claims
  • Dismiss your claims
  • Litigate your claim on your behalf (this is rare)

If the EEOC doesn’t dismiss your claims, they’ll eventually send you a “right to sue” letter. This letter gives you the right to file a lawsuit against your employer. You can also request this latter at any time. You only have 90 days to file a lawsuit once you receive your right to sue letter. However, if you’re filing an age discrimination lawsuit you don’t need to wait for a right to sue letter – you only need to wait 60 days after filing your claim with the EEOC.

The Center for Public Integrity analyzed eight years of data compiled from complaints made to the EEOC and found a pattern: the system routinely fails workers. Cases are closed without an investigation and some investigations are simple phone calls requesting a response from the employer. Like every agency, the EEOC doesn’t have the budget required to handle the mountain of cases they receive. However, they do fight for employees whenever possible. For instance, in 2018 the EEOC filed 199 lawsuits against employers and won a total of $505 million for employees.

Have you been discriminated against? File a complaint with the EEOC

Knowing all of this, not wanting to pursue a discrimination lawsuit is understandable. It’s nerve-wracking, time-consuming, and the EEOC may close your case before you get the right to sue. However, it doesn’t take much time to file a report with the EEOC. If you don’t file, you could be missing out on financial compensation that will carry you for the rest of your life.

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