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Foil state bias claims by checking the calendar

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in Human Resources

Texas employees have 180 days after an alleged discriminatory act to file discrimination charges with the Texas Commission on Human Rights. So, you can get a charge tossed out if you can prove it was filed more than 180 days afterward. But what counts as a “discriminatory act”?

When an employee claims that a transfer to a worse job is the “act,” the filing-countdown clock starts ticking right after the transfer—not after the person received his or her first paycheck in the new job—unless the worker can show that the discrimination continued in the new position.

Recent case: Laneisha Davis, a black female, worked as a finance manager at an auto dealership and almost immediately started having trouble working for the general manager. She complained that he purposely mispronounced her name, wouldn’t let her sell upgrades to the most promising customers and made her perform secretarial tasks.

The dealership told Davis that she wasn’t selling enough and had to choose between being transferred to the company’s Internet operation or being fired. She chose the transfer, but quit shortly after she realized that she was making much less money there.

She filed a complaint with the Texas Commission on Human Rights more than 180 days after her transfer, but within 180 days of her first reduced paycheck. The court dismissed her case, reasoning that the controlling date was the date of the transfer, not the date she got her first reduced paycheck. (Davis v. Automation USA Corp, et al., No. 01-05-00791, Court of Appeals of Texas, First District, 2006)

Tip: Whenever you receive a copy of an employee’s Texas Commission on Human Rights complaint, always check to see how many days it’s been since the alleged discriminatory act. If it’s been more than 180 days, ask the commission to dismiss the case.

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