When an employee files an EEOC claim and the federal agency decides to dismiss it, that employee has up to 90 days to file a lawsuit on his or her own behalf. That means you’ll know within 90 days whether you’ll face a lawsuit or you can breathe easy.
But it’s a different story with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA). Employees have up to two years to file a lawsuit when the agency dismisses a complaint.
That means you should keep all records that you may need until at least two years after you receive a dismissal letter from the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC).
Recent case: Cheryl O’Neil, who suffered from major depression, worked as an accountant for the Diocese of Erie. The trouble began when a supervisor began removing accommodations she’d been granted for her disability. She finally quit after being told that she had to let her boss see her psychiatric records.
She filed a complaint with the PHRC, alleging disability discrimination under the PHRA. The agency dismissed her complaint on March 16, 2004. She waited until March 16, 2006, to file her own disability discrimination lawsuit. That was fine because she had two full years to file. (O’Neil v. Diocese of Erie, No. 06-65E, WD PA, 2006)
Online resources: For more details on EEOC filing procedures, go to www.eeoc.gov/charge. For more on PHRA filing procedures, go to www.phrc.state.pa.us.