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Navigating the EEOC/PHRC

In Pennsylvania, you are required to file your claim with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the PA Human Relations Commission (PHRC) when you suspect that you are suffering from discrimination on the basis of your gender, age, race, disability, pay or some form of retaliation.  If you do not file your claim with either or both of these agencies within the applicable statute of limitations, you are forever barred from bringing a claim against your employer.Filing with the EEOC means you can later bring your case in federal court while filing with the PHRC means that you will bring your claim in Pennsylvania state court.  Filing in either venue has different implications that you will need to consider before filing suit.  However, as a preliminary matter, you should file your claim with both agencies.You must file your claim with both of these agencies within 180 days of the discriminatory.  The court will look at "discreet acts" such as being fired, demoted, denied promotion, given unequal pay, receiving a negative review, etc.  You have to be prepared to file your charge within 6 months of one of these types of discriminatory events or accept that you will not be able to sue on that particular event.You are protected by the law once you file a complaint with any government agency regarding your employer.  For instance, if you file a claim with the EEOC or OSHA, your employer could be held liable for any negative action taken against you following this filing if you can show that the action was motivated by some retaliatory animus.  Note that you must file another EEOC/PHRC charge detailing the retaliation that occurred after the filing of your original charge.With the EEOC, you are required to wait six months to allow them to conduct a fact finding investigation.  After this period has elapsed, you are permitted to ask for your "Right to Sue" letter regardless of whether this fact finding investigation has occurred.  Once you receive your "Right to Sue" letter, you only have 90 days to file suit in federal court.  Again, if you miss this deadline, you will be barred from bringing the claim in Federal Court.As you can tell, it is extremely important to adhere to all of these timelines or you will forever be barred from holding your employer liable for their discrimination.  Please visit the EEOC and PHRC websites for more information.Please accept the content of this Blog for informational purposes only. This Blog is not meant to provide legal advice on your specific circumstances but rather, to give employees a general understanding of the legal issues affecting them. If you believe you have suffered discrimination, retaliation or wrongful termination in the work place, you must contact an attorney for advice on your specific facts.

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