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How employees can use federal law to pursue employment claims

When an employee pursues a race discrimination case, it may be done pursuant to Title VII or Section 1981. The two statutes have many similarities, and facts in a case can be pursued under both laws at the same time. However, Pennsylvania residents should understand that the Supreme Court has ruled that these are distinct and separate causes of action. Depending on the facts of a case, this may help or hurt a worker's claim.

While both laws bar intentional discrimination, Title VII also prohibits practices that could have a disparate outcome if it there is no intent to do so. Those who are pursing a race discrimination claim do not need to file an EEOC charge before filing a lawsuit under Section 1981. This may help those who have missed a deadline to file such a charge.

Workers who are filing a Section 1981 claim may have four years from the time an incident occurs to do so. Individuals who wish to pursue a Title VII claim have up to 300 days from an incident to file a charge with the EEOC. Furthermore, anyone filing a Title VII claim has 90 days from when the EEOC files a Right to Sue Notice. More information about Title VII filing deadlines is available on the EEOC website.

Federal laws tend to prohibit a wide variety of discriminatory behaviors by employers against employees. Those who believe that a decision related to their employment was based on items such as race, gender or national origin may wish to consult with an attorney. An attorney may be able to help gather evidence to help bolster a discrimination claim or advise an individual as to what he or she should do or not do while a case is ongoing.

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