Workplace Discrimination? Get that Complaint Filed!

Employees in this country have protections against workplace discrimination and harassment. These include protection from sexual or racial harassment, national origin, religion, age, disability, and gender (including sexual orientation) discrimination. These forms of harassment and discrimination are spelled out under Title VII, and its amendments, which is the statute enacted as a result of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Workplace Discrimination? Get that Complaint Filed!
Prior to that time, there had been other federal statutes such as §1981 and §1983 which address primarily race and national origin discrimination as well as retaliation. These sections, however, did not include gender, religion, disability, or age discrimination. As a result of the civil rights movement, the Civil Rights Act was passed, which was designed to specifically address workplace discrimination and expanded protections for employees subjected to these additional types of discrimination.
The Title VII statute empowered what is known as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and created that faction of the government whose job it is to survey and take complaints of workplace discrimination. Anyone wanting to bring a complaint and go into Federal court under those claims has to first go through the EEOC administrative process. As a federal statute, it is the same in every state and any employer who has 15 employees or more is subject to the statute.
The EEOC Filing Deadline
Title VII sets a complaint filing deadline of 180 calendar days. However, it also provides that in any state where there is a similar employment discrimination statute, such as New York, the deadline may be expanded to 300 days. With the exception of a few states like New Mexico and Georgia, every state in this country has a state-level statute against workplace discrimination. In those states that do not, the filing period is limited to the 180 days.
A complaint must be initiated when the harm takes place. You can’t have something happen two years earlier and then wait, worrying whether you are going to lose your job. That is certainly a legitimate worry, but if you choose to wait and try to raise that complaint after the 180-300 days have passed, it will be considered untimely because the statute requires you to make that complaint within 180-300 days of the occurrence of discrimination.
However, certain claims trigger the 180-300 day filing requirement after the last occurrence of discrimination where the discrimination takes place over a period of time. This type of discrimination is known as a “continuous violation.” For example, if you are a victim of sexual harassment and you were subjected to repeated, unwanted sexual advances or comments over a period of months, the clock starts running from the last act of harassment, not the first. Most employees do not know this.
If you believe you have a legitimate complaint, it is extremely important that you make use of resources like the EEOC’s website, or contact a lawyer like us to ask for information about what to do, even if you choose not to act on it at that time. Failing to act in many states leaves you high and dry, without any other protection, because either there is no state statute, or in more conservative jurisdictions like Texas, for example, the states only adopt the same 180-day rule as Title VII.
Paying attention to the EEOC deadlines is an important issue because an employee may have a very strong legal claim but if they do not act within a certain period of time, or get the information to act within a certain period of time, their claim may be completely barred leaving you with no avenue for justice.

James A. Vagnini
email: [email protected]

“An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation”

new york employment attorney, discrimination newsRace discrimination can come in many forms, from the subtle to the outright reprehensible.  In September 2011, the criminal justice system addressed one of the most heinous acts of racism our country has seen in the past 50 years.  This incident is not a reflection on any particular part of our country.  Rather, it evidences that racism and discrimination still exist in America today and the criminal justice system is at the forefront of combating the issue.
On September 19, 2011, Deryl Dedmon was indicted for felony murder with hate-crime enhancement in Jackson, Mississippi.  It is alleged that Mr. Dedmon, who is 19 years old and White, found James Anderson, who was 48 and African American, in a motel parking lot and attacked him.  Mr. Dedmon, with a group of White teenagers beat Mr. Anderson and then Mr. Dedmon ran him over with his truck.  Afterwards, Mr. Dedmon robbed Mr. Anderson, but it has yet to be determined what was stolen, other than his life.  Prior to this vicious assault and murder, Dedmon and the group of teenagers were drinking and partying and then decided to “find a Black man to mess with.”  The atrocious assault was caught on video surveillance from a nearby hotel camera. It is further alleged that Mr. Dedmon was using racial slurs and was yelling “White power” during the assault.
The Mississippi criminal justice system, as well as the District Attorney of Hinds County Robert Smith, have taken the proper steps to address the severity of Mr. Dedmon’s actions.  Life without parole, as well as the death-sentence accompanies a conviction on these charges.
Deryl dedmon, new york employment lawyer
In a letter written by Barbara Anderson Young, Mr. Anderson’s sister, she asks District Attorney Smith not to consider using the death penalty in this case.  “We oppose the death penalty because it historically has been used in Mississippi and the South primarily against people of color for killing Whites.  Executing James’ killers will not balance the scales.  But sparing them may help spark a dialogue that one day will lead to the elimination of capital punishment.”  Ms. Young further commented, quoting Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., “An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation.”  Ms. Young’s compassion and understanding exemplify that this particular incident of racial discrimination represents more than just that; it represents the ongoing struggle that society has in determining the most effective mechanism by which to deal with the problem of discrimination.  It further exemplifies what should be a societal goal of illuminating the continuing and ever important struggles for equality.
James Anderson, employment attorney new yorkIt is abundantly clear that racism still exists and it is evidenced in the most shocking and devastating ways.  Deryl Dedmon is only 19 years old, but he has allegedly managed to ruin the lives of two families forever, all in the name of racial hatred.  He allegedly did not know James Anderson, but James Anderson was a man with a family, just like Mr. Dedmon.  Perhaps when there is a day that we all view one another as Human, rather than as being part of a certain race, ethnicity or religion, we will be able to better succeed as a society.  Perhaps, Ms. Young’s hope that as a result of her brother’s untimely and horrific death it will enable us to engage in a critically valuable and necessary dialogue may be realized.
Although Valli Kane & Vagnini does not practice criminal law, our interests are aligned with those prosecuting hate crimes across this country in that we do fight for civil rights and the right to work and live without the injustice of bigotry and discrimination. Being discriminated against for any reason is inexcusable and we encourage all those exposed to any type of discrimination to stand up and seek justice.