It is illegal to take an adverse employment action against an employee or applicant based on their race, color, religion, sex, age (40 or older), national origin, or physical or mental disability. It is also illegal to retaliate against an employee for complaining of being discriminated against, whether the underlying discrimination complained of is proven or not – meaning that employees are entitled to complain of discriminatory conduct to their employer or an administrative body without fear of retaliatory conduct, such as being fired, demoted, or experiencing a significant change in their working conditions.
If you believe you have been discriminated against based on your membership in one or more of the above protected classes, you may file a discrimination complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Arizona Attorney General's Office within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act, or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 300 days.
Once you file a discrimination complaint, the agency you chose to file a claim with will determine whether your complaint, if everything stated is assumed to be true, rises to the level of unlawful discriminatory conduct. If they determine that your complaint rises to the level of unlawful discriminatory conduct, they will investigate to determine whether your case requires Cause or No Cause for action, meaning they investigate to determine whether unlawful discrimination has occurred. If the Agency determines discrimination has occurred, they will attempt to resolve the Complaint. Typical remedies can include compensatory & punitive damages. Compensatory damages pay victims for out-of-pocket expenses caused by the discrimination (such as costs associated with a job search or medical expenses) and compensate them for any emotional harm suffered (such as mental anguish, inconvenience, or loss of enjoyment of life). Punitive damages may be awarded to punish an employer who has committed an especially malicious or reckless act of discrimination.
If the Agency determines no discrimination has occurred after their investigation is concluded, you will receive a “Notice of Right to Sue” letter, which will give you 90 days to file a lawsuit against your employer. If you fail to meet the 90-day deadline, you will lose the right to sue your employer for discrimination.
Working with an experienced attorney to submit your employment discrimination claim will ensure you meet the short and strict filing deadlines, as well as appropriately allege the necessary elements of the claim you are trying to prove. It is crucial to properly allege your claims during the administrative process in order to achieve the best outcome from your discrimination complaint. To speak with an experienced civil rights attorney, contact our firm or schedule a consultation on our website at Moosbrugger-Law.com
Important Note: Federal employees and applicants have a different complaint process, and generally must contact an agency EEO Counselor within 45 days of the alleged discriminatory event. This topic is covered more thoroughly in our post about the Federal Employee Discrimination Process.