Thinking of suing for age discrimination? The clock may be ticking
Jul 16, 2012, 6 a.m.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967, and its many subsequent amendments, protects all working individuals age forty or older if their employer has 20 or more employees. However, those with potential employment discrimination cases must be aware of an all-important clock that begins ticking as soon as the alleged discriminatory behavior occurred.
While you can choose to file an age discrimination lawsuit in either federal or state court, employment discrimination cases require that you take another action first. Per the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, you must submit your charges to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory action.
This is not a "suggested" time frame, but a strict time limit. If you fail to file your charges with the EEOC within 180 days (not the same as six months), you lose your rights to eventually sue your employer for their discriminatory behavior. This is a very short statute of limitations for civil misbehavior.
This limitation clock is ticking quickly, so waste no time filing the charge or contacting an experienced attorney. Depending on your state of residence, you may have this deadline extended to 300 days, if your specific charge is also covered by a state law. However, in most employment discrimination cases, you're safer by filing your allegations within the 180-day limit with the EEOC.
If the EEOC or your local state agency cannot resolve your case, the agency will issue a Notice of Right to Sue . However, per Age Discrimination in Employment Act regulations, you have only 90 days to file your lawsuit. This even faster ticking clock mandates that you and your attorney be diligent and attentive, but not overly "patient."
Patience may be a virtue, but missing these deadlines can also be very costly. Be aware, that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act also protects you when you are a candidate for a job that you do not get. You need not be employed by a company to suffer--or sue for--age discrimination.
Also, understand that age and employment discrimination cases are typically difficult to prove. Keep meticulous notes and records of employer actions to help your attorney argue your case. First, however, be aware of the strict--and very short--time periods to file your charges.
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