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Employment Discrimination Under State Law

21. What is the role of state governments with regard to anti-discrimination laws?

All states have statutes and regulations administered by state agencies to protect employees from employment discrimination. Often, these state laws will provide additional protections for employees beyond those provided by federal statutes. The EEOC generally works in conjunction with state administrative agencies in enforcing federal employment discrimination laws. In some states, the EEOC will refer any EEOC charges to the state agency handling such complaints. This is known as “deferral” or “deferral states”. Other states allow an application that the complaint be dually filed with the state administrative agency and the EEOC. If a state administrative agency begins a proceedings or a state law provides relief to a discrimination charge, the EEOC must notify the state officials and wait 60 days before continuing an action. If the state agency begins the investigation process, the EEOC will generally halt processing the claim while the state agency is investigating. If an employee first files with the state agency, the law extends the time for filing with the EEOC to 300 days.

•    Discussion: What do you think are the benefits of a state also providing protections against employment discrimination? How do you feel about the procedure for filing both a state and federal action? Why do you think some states accept referral of all EEOC complaints, while others allow for dual processing?

•    Practice Question: Anna feels that she has suffered discrimination in her workplace when she was recently fired. She is considering making a legal complaint. What are her options under state law and federal law?

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