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Court: Employee can be late filing bias claim with state and still retain 300-day EEOC window

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

In many states, including New York, employees have 180 days following an allegedly discriminatory act to file charges with either a state or local discrimination agency. They have 300 days from the allegedly discriminatory act to file with the federal EEOC.

Usually the state agency will simply share the filing with the EEOC.

But what if the employee files her state claim too late—more than the state-required 180-day limitation? Does she lose the right to file the EEOC complaint?

Recent case: Maxine Richardson, who identifies herself as a Native American, was 69 years old when she applied for a job with a library. She wasn’t hired.

More than 180 days later, she filed a national-origin and age discrimination complaint with a state agency. The state forwarded the complaint to the EEOC as part of the arrangement extending the deadline for filing EEOC complaints to 300 days.

The library argued that because Richardson filed her state claim late, she lost the right to file her federal claim, too. The trial court agreed.

But Richardson appealed and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated her lawsuit.

It said the law is clear—even if an employee misses the state deadline, the fact that there is a state agency in place means that the employee has up to 300 days to file with the EEOC. (Richardson v. Hartford Public Library, No. 10-CV-1066, 2nd Cir., 2010)

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