The anti-discrimination laws give you a limited amount of time to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. In general, you need to file a charge within 180 days from the day the discrimination took place. However, the deadline may be extended to 300 days if the discrimination occurred in a place that has a state or local anti-discrimination law (although only a state law will extend the deadline for an age discrimination charge).

The 180 or 300-day period starts the day you first find out about the discriminatory employment decision (such as a demotion or discharge), regardless of the effective date of the decision. For example, if your employer told you today that you are being terminated effective four weeks from now, the deadline for filing a charge will be 180 or 300 days from today and not your last day of work.

Also, if more than one discriminatory event took place, we usually can only investigate the events that are filed by the deadline and the deadline applies to each event. There is one exception to this general rule and that is if you are alleging ongoing harassment. In harassment cases, you must file your charge within 180 or 300 days of the last incident of harassment, although we will look at all incidents of harassment when investigating your charge, even if the earlier incidents happened more than 180/300 days earlier.

If you plan to file a charge alleging a violation of the Equal Pay Act (which prohibits sex discrimination in wages and benefits), different deadlines apply. Under the Equal Pay Act, you don’t need to file a charge of discrimination with EEOC. Instead, you are allowed to go directly to court and file a lawsuit. The deadline for filing a charge or lawsuit under the EPA is two years from the day you received the last discriminatory paycheck (this is extended to three years in the case of a willful violation). Sex discrimination in wages is also covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which does require filing a charge within 180 or 300 day deadlines.

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