Most employees in Virginia know that there are laws in place to protect them against illegal discrimination in the workplace, but they may not know what exactly constitutes illegal discrimination or what to do if it occurs.
As an employee in Virginia, you have the option to file a claim with either a state or federal agency, but time is strictly limited, and a delay could invalidate your claim. So, if you believe you suffered from an illegal workplace or employment discrimination, consider talking to a Virginia workplace discrimination lawyer who could evaluate your situation, explain your options, and help you move toward an effective resolution.
Types of Illegal Discrimination in the Workplace
Employees in Virginia are protected by both the Virginia Human Rights Act and numerous federal laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. Broadly speaking, these laws prohibit employers from treating one employee or group of employees different than other employees because of certain characteristics or factors.
The factors on which employers may not discriminate under penalty of law include:
- Marital status
- Genetic information
Workplace discrimination can manifest itself in numerous ways. For instance, an employer may fail to promote a qualified candidate, unfairly fire an employee or refuse to hire a job candidate in the first place based on protected characteristics.
An employee suffering from discrimination may be entitled to various forms of relief with the assistance of a Virginia workplace discrimination lawyer, including compensation for lost wages, reinstatement to a position, and compensation for emotional pain and hardship.
How Can a Worker File a Claim for Employment Discrimination?
In Virginia workplace discrimination cases, you could file a claim with either the Virginia Council on Human Rights or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Federal law generally only applies to employers that have at least 15 or more employees, so those who work for businesses or organizations with fewer than 15 employees should file a claim with the state agency.
You do not need to file separate claims with both agencies since the two agencies can work together on claims. However, if relevant, you should inform the agency with which you file of your desire to have the claim cross-filed with the other agency.
Deadline for Filing a Discrimination Claim
The time limit within which a workplace discrimination claim must be filed in Virginia often referred to as the “statute of limitations,” is strictly enforced for both federal and state claims. Claims filed after the limit has expired will generally be dismissed as untimely.
For claims filed with the Virginia Council on Human Rights, the deadline is 180 days after the date of the discrimination. For claims filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the deadline is 300 days past the date the discrimination occurred.
What Happens after You File a Claim?
Although each case is different, in many instances the state or federal employment agency will try to get you and your employer to settle the claim through mediation. If the agency decides to investigate, it may elect to collect documents from the employer and interview witnesses. Following that, the agency will issue a determination as to whether it believes unlawful discrimination occurred.
If it finds discrimination, the agency will likely try to reach a settlement you’re your employer. However, if a settlement cannot be reached, the agency may file a lawsuit.
If the agency decides not to file a suit against the employer or if it does not reach a finding of discrimination, then you still have the right to file a lawsuit in state or federal court.
How a Virginia Workplace Discrimination Lawyer Could Help
If you are considering or pursuing a workplace discrimination claim in Virginia, a knowledgeable attorney could help with the collection and preservation of valuable evidence and determine which filing option provides the greatest likelihood of a successful outcome.
If you believe you were discriminated against by your employer, talk to a Virginia employment discrimination lawyer at the Spiggle Law Firm to find how what could be done in your case.