If you have been discriminated against and wish to file a discrimination claim against your employer, several options are available to you. Although many people think first about filing a discrimination claim through a civil lawsuit, discrimination victims also have the option of filing complaints with a state or federal agency in addition to or in lieu of bringing a lawsuit. Depending on the specific circumstances involved, pursuing one of these administrative alternatives may be a more effective way to reach a quick and inexpensive resolution in a discrimination case.
Victims of discrimination in New Jersey can file employment-related claims with two primary agencies. At the federal level, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles discrimination claims, while the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights (DCR) typically handles discrimination claims at the state level. In order to bring a claim before the EEOC, the complaint must be related to unlawful discrimination or retaliation covered by federal laws, such as Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act. Claims covered by state law, on the other hand, must be brought before the DCR.
After you file a claim with either the EEOC or DCR, your complaint will be investigated. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, your case may head down one of several paths, and your right to file a lawsuit may be either forfeited or preserved. The investigating agency may also choose to help mediate a solution between you and your employer or help you reach a settlement. Often this resolution process can be completed more quickly and less expensively than an extended lawsuit. Due to the critical impact that filing a claim with one of these agencies can have on your legal rights, however, it is important that you first consult with an experienced employment attorney who can explain the advantages and disadvantages associated with each of these options.
Although filing a claim with the EEOC or DCR may sometimes be a simpler process than filing a civil lawsuit, it is still crucial that a discrimination victim first consult with an experienced employment attorney. Prior to filing a discrimination claim with the EEOC or DCR, all facts and circumstances surrounding the case must be evaluated. Only after this evaluation is complete can a proper determination be made as to what is the best course of action for you and what steps are necessary to properly protect your rights.