If you have a claim for employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, sex, religion, or age, it’s very important to see an attorney who can help you through the entire process since it’s a very lengthy and complicated process. The advice contained below is for informational purposes only and is based on Pennsylvania law. If you have a claim for discrimination, seek the advice of an attorney immediately.
Filing a Claim With the PHRC and EEOC
Before an individual can sue in court for discrimination that occurs in Pennsylvania, they must first pursue administrative remedies. This means that the employee must first file a claim with either the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If you file a claim in court without first filing with the PHRC or EEOC, your case will be dismissed.
Employees in Pennsylvania are protected from discrimination under both state and federal law. It’s advised to dually file with both agencies in order to preserve your claim under both PA state and federal law. The PHRC grants employees protections and rights under PA state law, while the EEOC is the administrative agency of the federal government that investigates claims of discrimination under federal law. The purpose of these agencies is to investigate the claim and encourage the parties to reach a resolution of the case through a settlement before the need for litigation in court.
PHRC and EEOC Deadlines
Each agency has different timelines that must be followed or you will risk losing your rights to pursue a claim for discrimination. A claim must be filed with the PHRC within 180 days of the alleged act of discrimination, such as a discharge or denial of a promotion. In order to file a claim with the EEOC, the claim must be filed within 300 days of the alleged act of discrimination. Please note that the EEOC deadline is 180 days, but Pennsylvania state law has extended the deadline to 300 days if the charge involved is covered by a state or local anti-discrimination law.
What if you file a claim with the EEOC on day 181? If you file a claim with the EEOC after the time to file with the PHRC has expired, you lose your right to pursue a claim for discrimination in state court under state law, but you can proceed with the claim through Federal District Court under federal law.
PHRC and EEOC Right to Sue Letter
Once a claim is filed with the EEOC or PHRC, they will then investigate your claim and attempt to foster a negotiation between the employer and employee. In some cases, a settlement can be reached and other times a settlement cannot be reached.
If your case hasn’t been resolved after a reasonable investigation period, you should ask the PHRC or the EEOC for a “right to sue” letter so you can file the complaint in state or federal court. If you never received a right to sue letter, you can proceed to court if your claim has remained open for over one year.
If you have not been represented by an attorney when you filed a claim with the PHRC or EEOC, as soon as you receive your right to sue letter, see an attorney immediately in order to draft the complaint. If you receive a right to sue letter from the EEOC, you only have 90 days to file a complaint in Federal court. However, if you receive a right to sue letter from the PHRC, you have 2 years to file a complaint in State court.
If you have any questions about filing a complaint for discrimination, please contact me by calling (484) 362-9286.