Discrimination in the workplace is an aspect of business law that many organizations must understand and deal with. As a private sector employee, John is faced with a scenario of discrimination that he wishes to file a complaint. “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA 1964) prohibits discrimination in voting, education, employment, public accommodations, and the receipt of federal funds on the basis of race, color, gender, national origin, or religion”(Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007). Because of other types of discrimination cases, the federal government introduced the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Civil Right Acts of 1991. This paper will discuss the legal process an individual would pursue whom was discriminated against by a private sector organization and wishes to file a complaint. The first task would be to contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After contacting the commission, John will meet with an EEOC Counselor from the agency within 45 days of the discriminatory action. The counselor will provide John with information regarding the process, time frames and appeal procedures. The counselor will also attempt to informally resolve the matter. If not fully resolved, the complainant would fill out an intake questionnaire with key information about the company and incident. The employee has 180 days after the offense to file with the EEOC. The claim is then submitted to the nearest EEOC office or by mail. Once the intake questionnaire is completed and submitted, the EEOC will notify the organization by mail and send an investigator to request “information, interview people, review documents, and, as needed, visit the facility where the alleged discrimination occurred” (EEOC, 2003). Once the investigation is complete, the charging party and employer may enter into the mediation program if both parties wish to resolve the issue quickly. “If mediation is unsuccessful, the charge is returned for investigation” (EEOC, 2003). The charge may be dismissed at any point in the investigation if the EEOC cannot establish a violation of the law. “When a charge is dismissed, a notice is issued in accordance with the law which gives the charging party 90 days in which to file a lawsuit on his or her own behalf” (EEOC, 2003). If the mediation is not acceptable and the charge is not dismissed, the EEOC will develop a remedy for the discrimination. A remedy, according to the EEOC, may include back pay, front pay, a promotion or hiring of the charging party along with other types of payments to make the charging party “whole” (in the condition s/he would have been but for the discrimination). Compensatory and punitive damages are also available if the discrimination is found to be intentional. “Punitive damages are not available against the federal, state or local governments. Remedies also may include payment of: attorneys' fees, expert witness fees, and court costs” (EEOC, 2003). The charging party will receive a “right to sue” letter from the EEOC. This letter shows grounds for litigation at which point the charging party has 90 days to file suit. To expedite the process, the charging party can request a “right to sue” notice from the EEOC 180 days after the charge was first filed under Title VII of the CRA 1964 and ADA. “Under the ADEA, a suit may be filed at any time 60 days after filing a charge with EEOC, but not later than 90 days after EEOC gives notice that it has completed action on the charge” (EEOC, 2003). “Federal courts may decide cases that involve the United States government, the United States Constitution or federal laws, or controversies between states or between the United States and foreign governments. A case that raises such a "federal question" may be filed in federal court.” (US Courts, 2003). Company managers and executives must be aware of discrimination laws and must communicate that discrimination is unacceptable in the workplace. When an act of discrimination occurs, the employer must be willing to resolve the issue in a timely manner. Less publicity about the discrimination is favorable for any organization. If discrimination has occurred, the charging party must understand the process and be willing to settle the issue before suing the company as long as the organization provides an acceptable remedy. Taking a discrimination case to court can be a lengthy and costly endeavor.
Bennett-Alexander, D.D. and Hartman, L.P. (2005). Employment Law for Business. 5th edition. McGraw-Hill EEOC. (2007). Retrieved Nov. 09, 2008, from Filing a Charge of Discrimination Web site: http://eeoc.gov/charge/overview_charge_processing.html US Courts. (2003). Retrieved Nov. 09, 2008, from Understanding Federal Courts Web site: http://www.uscourts.gov/understand03/content_6_0.html