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Public employees must gripe to OAH before going to EEOC

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

If you are a state or local government employer, here’s a tip that may prompt a judge to dismiss an employee’s dis­­­­crimination claim early on: Public employees have to first file a discrimination claim with the state Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) before going to the EEOC.

That agency then has 60 days to decide whether you violated North Carolina discrimination law. Only then can the case move on to the next level, with the filing of an EEOC complaint.

Recent case: Shirley Hardin worked briefly for the Anson County Health Department. After she was terminated, she filed an EEOC complaint alleging various forms of discrimination.

But the county got the case dismissed fast because Hardin hadn’t filed an OAH complaint. It didn’t matter that the EEOC had issued a right-to-sue letter. (Hardin v. Kateh, et al., No. 3:10-CV-260, WD NC, 2011)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Shirley December 8, 2011 at 10:47 pm

I did not work at the Health department briefly. I worked at ACHD for 3 years. Also, I was in communication with OAH, and was told verbally and in writing that I did not have to first file a claim of discrimination with OAH. My case is now in appeals. Futhermore it took over a year for the case to be dismissed. See below

Ms. Hardin,

The North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings, Civil Rights Division (OAH/CRD) is a Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA) that investigates and resolves charges of employment discrimination filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act and /or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and compatible state law in partnership with the EEOC.

The Division is responsible for charges alleging discrimination on the basis of race, color, ***, religion, national origin, age or disability in employment, or charges alleging retaliation for opposition to such discrimination brought by previous and current state employees or applicants for employment for positions covered by the State Personnel Act, including county government employees.

The employees covered by the Civil Rights Division are non-exempt State Government employees; non-exempt UNC employees; and County Social Services, Mental Health, Public Health and Civil Preparedness employees. The EEOC covers private and public sector employees. Employees alleging discrimination may file their complaints directly with the Civil Rights Division or EEOC without exhausting in-house or agency grievance procedures.

June M. Smith

Compliance Manager

OAH/Civil Rights Division

1711 New Hope Church Road

Raleigh, North Carolina 27609

919-431-3021

june.smith@oah.nc.gov

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