Employees who believe they have suffered pay discrimination have to move fast to file their claims.
They can’t wait, for example, until after they retire and only then claim their retirement benefits are lower than they should be because they were discriminated against.
Recent case: Claude Hunter, who is black, worked as a custodian field supervisor before he went out on disability retirement.
After Hunter started receiving retirement checks, he sued for past pay discrimination. He claimed that between 2003 and 2006, his white co-workers received higher pay increases that he did. Hunter said this alleged discrimination caused his retirement pay to be lower than it should have been.
Hunter, however, hadn’t filed an EEOC complaint back when he said he suffered discrimination through lower pay raises. That killed his case. North Carolina employees must file EEOC complaints within 180 days of experiencing a discriminatory act, and can’t wait until retirement to sue. The court dismissed Hunter’s case. (Hunter v. Wake County Board of Education and Wake County Public Schools, No. 5:08-CV-62, ED NC, 2008)
Final note: Cases like this one may spur more current employees to file EEOC complaints whenever they even suspect discrimination. Rather than lose the right to sue by missing the deadline, they’ll act immediately. Make sure your pay decisions are bias-free and that you can justify any discrepancies. Assume the EEOC may challenge your decisions and prepare accordingly.
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