Thursday, September 11, 2008

Periods for Filing Discrimination Charges

Fighting sexual harassment in the workplace may not be a simple task. Even filing a complaint may take courage and great determination for a victim.

Sexual harassment can take many forms and depends on the circumstances. According to law, this act may consist of “vulgar or lewd comments, or forcing workers to wear sexually revealing uniforms. It can involve unwanted physical touching or fondling, or suggestions to engage in sexual conduct”. Even obscene or sexually suggestive cartoons and posters can be sexual harassment. Occasional inappropriate touching, off-color jokes, or repeated sexual references can be sexual harassment.

In deciding on a case, courts often consider the nature, severity, and frequency of the conduct, as well as the conditions under which the conduct occurred.

The first step in fighting sexual harassment is filing a complaint against an offender. The victim may lodge her complaint with any Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office. This can be done in person, by mail or by telephone.

To ensure that the EEOC may effectively act to protect your rights, you must observe some guidelines when filing charges of discrimination. Here are periods that must be observed:

• Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII) charges must be filed with EEOC within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act.

• Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - The time requirements for filing a charge are the same as those for Title VII charges.

• Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) - The time requirements for filing a charge are the same as those for Title VII and the ADA.

• Equal Pay Act (EPA) - Individuals are not required to file an EPA charge with EEOC before filing a private lawsuit. However, charges may be filed with EEOC and some cases of wage discrimination may be violations of Title VII. If an EPA charge is filed with EEOC, the procedure for filing is the same as for charges brought under Title VII. However, the time limits for filing in court are different under the EPA; thus, it is advisable to file a charge as soon as you become aware the EPA may have been violated.