Filing a discrimination case with the EEOC/Texas Workforce Commission- Civil Rights Division

If you have been discriminated against by your employer in Violation of Federal Law (Title VII – race, color, gender, religion, national origin or disability under the Americans with Disability Act “ADA”) you are generally required by law to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 300 days of the violation. If you want to file a claim under State Law you must file a claim with the Texas Workforce Commission- Civil Rights Division “TWC-CRD” within 180 days of your discrimination. Fortunately, both the EEOC and the Texas Workforce Commission- Civil Rights Division accept charges for each other. So generally if you file a claim with the EEOC you have filed a claim automatically with the Texas Workforce Commission- Civil Rights Division (and visa versa). So why would you want to choose a Federal claim versus a State Claim? There are many reasons that play into this decision and this is a legal decision that should always be left to an experienced employment lawyer. However sometimes the decision is based on what forum you will end up in based upon what law you sue under. For example you may sometimes (but not always) be able to have a State law claim in State Court, which is usually a friendlier forum for employees. However, these are decisions that should always be left to an experienced employment lawyer. These time limits seem easy, but recently, the case of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Saunders, 2016 WL 3854231 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2016), the Dallas Court of appeals held that the 180 days begins to run in a disability case under state law the first time a reasonable accommodation was denied. In this case an employee requested a reassignment to different job that she could do under based on her limitations of her disability. The employer kept putting her off saying there was not an opening. The employee kept asking and finally realized that she was just getting the run around so she filed a claim with the EEOC/TWC-CRD. This claim was filed more than 180 days after she first sought a reassignment but within 180 days of the last time she requested and was denied the reassignment. The Dallas Court of Appeals said the time began to run from the first time she asked for a reassignment and therefore her claim was not timely filed within 180 days so her claim was barred. This is an interesting claim because she would have 300 days to file her claim under Federal law and Federal Courts are more liberal in their interpretation of an “ongoing violation”. However the case was filed under state law and the claim was time barred. What do we learn from this? You should see a lawyer as soon as feel that you are being discriminated against. Could have the case been filed under Federal law? Maybe, but the odds of winning in Federal Court can sometimes be almost insurmountable. Had the disabled employee gone to see a lawyer and/or gone to the EEOC/TWC-CRD within 180 days of the first denial her claim would have survived in State Court under State law. So the lesson to be learned is to see a lawyer immediately when you feel that you are experience discrimination!

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