Has your Civil Rights been violated in the workplace?

Many employees come to my office to consult with me about sexual harassment or discrimination based upon race, pregnancy, gender or age. On some occasions, the employee may still be employed by the employer. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). Most labor unions and employment agencies are also covered. The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.An EEOC Charge can either be filed with the assistance and representation of counsel or by the employee on their own. If you do it on your own, the EEOC will give you the forms and guidance on how to prepare the Charge of Discrimination. Once a complaint is made to HR or the EEOC, the employer is not legally allowed to retaliate or discriminate against you for making these complaints. However, that does not always mean the employer will follow the rules so you should keep careful notes and documentation of all complaints made, to whom you made them, and any actions taken against you as a result of these complaints.The EEOC has a link on its website that you can use to do an online assessment of whether or not you should bring a charge with the EEOC. The link is at https://egov.eeoc.gov/eas/.It is important to know however that if you choose to file an EEOC Charge, you must do so within 180 days or 300 days of the claimed discrimination or harassment, so don’t wait too long to take this action. You get 300 days if your state has an agency similar to the EEOC such as in Florida, there is the Florida Commission on Human Relations (“FCHR”). You can fill out a charge in person at one of the EEOC offices or do it by mail.Once the EEOC Charge is filed, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency, has a staff of investigators who investigate your complaints. The employer is supposed to receive a copy of your Charge within ten days. They allow the employer an opportunity to file a formal response and generally will then ask for a reply from the employee. Sometimes, they will seek to interview the employee in person or over the telephone to get more information for their investigation. Sometimes the investigators will seek documents from the employer. Sometimes the EEOC will offer the parties to mediate the claims prior to further investigations. Keep in mind that if you choose to file an EEOC charge on your own, without an attorney, you will not have the support and guidance of an attorney to help you through this process.Once the EEOC completes its investigation, they will issue either a “cause determination” finding that they believed discrimination took place or will issues a “Notice of Suit Rights” which states that although they don’t believe discrimination took place, you can file a legal action against the employer if you choose to do so. If the EEOC issues a “cause” determination, they can choose to file a lawsuit on your behalf, but are not required to do so.Upon receipt of your Notice from the EEOC, if you are going to file a lawsuit, you must do so quickly since any Federal claims under the ADA, Title VII, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, etc must be filed within 90 days. In Florida and other states, there are also state statutes which provide you a longer time to file suit.In order to obtain the best results, it is often necessary to retain the services of an experienced employment law attorney as early in the case as possible. Call Coane & Associates at 713.850.0066 to schedule your consultation with our experienced attorneys who are compassionate about your rights.


I've been working at Publix now for 2 years. My boss keeps harassing me about my religion (Islam) and keeps making rude comments and slurs to the point of me being uncomfortable. I've been researching this topic online, but haven't found much about this topic until I ran across your article. I'd like to know more about my rights.

Hi I was terminated from my job and accused of possessing information with the intention of benefiting from the information for a position that i currently held. I have 27 years in human services and have never had an infraction or been dismissed. The employer dismissed me for unacceptable personal conduct. I am the only Latino on staff and I was dismissed without cause. What can I do and what are my rights? I believe that I was terminated because I am the Hispanic and also feel that my civil rights were violated.

While each state has its own rules,what we typically do is file a complaint with the EEOC on behalf of our clients. The EEOC process is normally a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit under the federal civil rights laws. Feel free to call us if you'd like to schedule an appointment.

I was diagnosed with MS around 10 years ago. While I was out the head of human resources said to me if you want us to help you you have to tell us what is wrong.I was in fear of losing my job so stupidly I did.I ahve been called handicaped by store managers,other managers and had my postiion taken away.It is a long story and I am scared about what is happening now withthe illness.

I am in another bad situation and feel if I go to HR operations will do wahtever they can to get rid of me

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