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Understand the Basics of Initiating an Employment Discrimination Claim in Florida

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Unfortunately, even in today’s world, employees sometimes find themselves the subject of discriminatory actions by their employers. If you are facing discrimination by a Florida employer, it is important to understand your rights and steps to initiate an employment discrimination claim.

What Classes are Protected for Purposes of an Employment Discrimination Claim?

Under the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992, the following classes are considered protected in regards to discrimination:

  • Sex;
  • National origin;
  • Age;
  • Handicap;
  • Marital status;
  • Race; and
  • Religion.

This means if you believe your employer is discriminating against you on the basis of one of the above-listed categories, you may have a grounds for initiating an employment discrimination claim.

How Do I Initially File an Employment Discrimination Claim in Florida?

A Florida plaintiff can file an employment discrimination claim in one of two agencies: the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) (state agency) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (federal agency). The two agencies cooperate in processing discrimination claims and it is typically unnecessary to file a claim with both agencies. So how do you choose where to file?

Oftentimes there are identical remedies recoverable from claims filed with either agency with limited exceptions. For example, the Florida Civil Rights Act covers age discrimination claims against smaller employers than are covered under federal law. Specifically, Florida law protects employees in companies of 15-20 employees where federal law only covers employees of companies with 20 or more employees. In these limited instances, you want to make sure you file with the FCHR.

What Happens if My Case is Not Resolved by Either Agency?

If your claim is not resolved by the FCHR or EEOC, you may decide to proceed with filing your claim in court. It should be noted that filing with an agency is a mandatory first step (known as “exhaustion of an administrative remedy”) for any employment discrimination case. It should also be noted that if the FCHR determines your case has “no cause” (has no merit), you cannot proceed with your claim in Florida court. In that case, you can only appeal this determination through the agency’s administrative process.

How Long Do I Have to File My Discrimination Claim?

There a different time limits (statutes of limitation) for filing your initial discrimination claim depending on whether you file with the FCHR or the EEOC. If you are filing your claim under state law with the FCHR, you must file your claim within one year of the alleged discrimination. If you are filing your claim under federal law with the EEOC, you must file your claim within three hundred days of the alleged discriminatory conduct. You will want to make sure you file your claim within the time limit so that it is not barred altogether.

Reach Out to Us for Help

It can be challenging to understand when and with what agency you should file your employment discrimination claim. The experienced Clearwater attorneys at Dilla Employment Law, P.A. can help walk you through your options so you maximize your chance of success moving forward. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0760/0760.html

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