What to Do When You Want to File a Discrimination Claim

You believe that you are the victim of discrimination in the workplace. What should you do?

As a preliminary step, review New York State and New York City laws. Combined, these laws cover nearly every form of discrimination. Unless your discrimination complaint arises from one of the few areas covered by city law but not by state law — e.g., gender identity discrimination — you should probably begin your case at the state level. You only have 180 days from the last day on which the discrimination took place to file a claim, so move fast; six months can go by much quicker than you might think!

You may file your complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission or with the New York State Division of Human Rights. Your complaint must be in writing, and should contain:

  • Your name, address and phone number, or the name, address and phone number of the person for whom you are filing the complaint
  • The name and address of the agency or person you believe discriminated against you
  • How, why and when you believe the discrimination took place
  • The types of discrimination involved in the case, e.g., race, sex, disability, pregnancy, age, etc.
  • The names of any people involved in the discrimination, including any non-participating witnesses
  • Your signature and your representative’s signature, if applicable, as well as the date
  • Any other information or documentation that would help the reader understand the complaint.

The best solution is to work with a New York employment discrimination lawyer who already knows the system. While you do not need a lawyer to file your initial discrimination complaint with the state or federal agency, nothing prevents you from working with one, and their experience may be the difference between winning and losing your case.


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