You may have heard that employees have new opportunities to sue their employers based on local laws that expand employment protections and prohibit forms of discrimination that state or federal laws don’t include. Sometimes, that’s true.
Fortunately, though, these new laws and their regulations may trip up employees and give you an opportunity to push for the case to be dismissed, as this recent case shows.
Recent case: Deborah had a romantic relationship with a female co-worker at her job in State College, Pa. After her employer terminated her, Deborah sued, alleging that she had been fired because of her sexual orientation.
Before going to federal court, she had filed a complaint with the State College Human Rights Commission, a local anti-discrimination agency that enforces a State College ordinance prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The commission tried to engage in mediation between Deborah and her former employer, which wasn’t particularly cooperative.
But before the commission was finished with the investigation, Deborah asked it to dismiss the case as she was going to instead file an EEOC complaint. She assumed that the investigation was pointless since the employer wasn’t cooperating and that she could still bring her lawsuit.
The court said she was wrong and that she should have waited for the commission to dismiss the case or rule in her favor. Her federal lawsuit was dismissed. (Stewart v. Keystone, No. 4:14-CV-1050, MD PA, 2015)