Employment discrimination is regulated by both the state of Texas and the federal government. Federally, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on race, religion, sex, gender, color, national origin, age, genetic information, or disability. Texas employment law also protects workers in Texas from unlawful discrimination based on the same factors. If you have experienced workplace discrimination based on any of the above, take the following steps to file a discrimination claim with the state.
Step 1: Decide with Whom to File
A discrimination claim can either be filed with the Texas Workforce Commission—Civil Rights Division (TWCCRD) or the EEOC. They both have what is called a work-sharing agreement, meaning they cooperate with each other to process claim. You only need to file with one, however, as long as you indicate to one of the agencies that you want to “cross-file” the claim with the other agency.
Step 2: Understand Your Deadline
Every discrimination claim has a statute of limitations. To preserve your claim under state law, you must file with the TWCCRD (or cross-file with the EEOC) within 180 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. To preserve your claim under federal law, you must file with the EEOC (or cross-file with the state agency) within 300 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. The sooner you file your claim, the stronger your case will be.
Step 3: Filing with TWCCRD
For the TWCCRD, you can fill out an Employment Discrimination Complaint Form and submit it to the TWCCRD at 101 East 15th Street, Guadalupe CRD, Austin, TX, 78778, email it to EEOINtake@twc.state.tx.us, or fax it to (512) 482-8465 with a cover sheet (include your name and the total number of pages).
Step 4: Filing with the EEOC
To file a Claim with the EEOC, contact your closest local EEOC office. There is an office in Dallas, Houston, El Paso, and San Antonio. Charges can be filed in person, by mail, or by telephone. For more information about which office is closest, visit the EEOC Office List and Jurisdictional Map here. The EEOC now has an online service that helps individuals check the status of their charge online, so you will have an easier time communicating with the people overseeing your case.
Step 5: Consult with an Attorney
If your case is resolved successfully by one of these agencies, you might not need to hire an attorney or file a lawsuit. However, if your case is not resolved, you might need to pursue a lawsuit. By pursuing these official avenues first, you will have a stronger case if you later need to sue. Filing with the EEOC and TWCCRD is called “exhausting” your administrative remedy, meaning you did everything you could to resolve this through official means before pursuing a lawsuit.
Step 6: Pursue a Claim in Court
Under both agencies’ rules, you must allow the agency at least 180 days to investigate the charge of discrimination before proceeding with your claim in court. Cases can be brought to either state or federal courts. A case filed in state court under federal law may be subject to removal, which means a defendant employer might request to move the case to federal court because it involves a federal statute. Once the EEOC issues a document called “Dismissal and Notice of Rights” or “Notice of Right to Sue,” only then can you file a case based on your federal claim. You have 60 days from the date the TWCCRD issues its own “right-to-sue” letter (or dismisses your claim) to file your claim, or within 2 years from the date your state law charge was filed, whichever is earlier.
Consulting a skilled attorney about your case will give you the best chance of succeeding with your lawsuit. Our experienced Houston employment law attorneys are familiar with the deadlines involved in a discrimination case. Shellist Lazarz Slobin LLP is experienced with filing complaints and handling lawsuits regarding all types of employment discrimination violations, and we have won a number of lawsuits resulting in client compensation. Let us zealously represent you in negotiations and in court.
Contact us at (713) 352-3433 or fill out our online form to get started on your case today.