Employment Discrimination: Filing Options

If you are a victim of employment discrimination in New York City and are prepared to formally pursue a claim (i.e., proceed beyond pre-filing negotiations), there are several procedural options available to you. These include (but may not be limited to):

  1. State Court,
  2. Federal Court,
  3. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),
  4. New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR),
  5. New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR).

Each of these options has its own features and peculiarities that should and must be considered thoroughly before proceeding.

For example, if you wish to assert a claim under various federal laws – such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act – you must first file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC (formally known as “exhausting your administrative remedies”). In New York, the Statute of Limitations (SOL) for filing such a Charge is 300 (three hundred) days from the relevant discriminatory act. (Other federal laws, such as the Family & Medical Leave Act and 42 U.S.C. 1981, do not require one to first file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC.)

To the contrary, you are not required to first file a charge of discrimination with the NYSDHR or NYCCHR to pursue claims of discrimination under the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) and New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) – i.e., you may proceed directly in state court on those claims. However, if you do file a complaint at the NYSDHR or NYCCHR, you will invoke those statutes’ “election of remedies” provisions, which will generally bar you from thereafter filing a complaint in court.

I have summarized some (but obviously not all) of these venues’ features in the below table:

VenueFeatures & Considerations
Court: State CourtSOL: 3 years under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws
Court: Federal CourtMust first file at the EEOC for claims under, e.g., Title VII, ADA, ADEA (but not 42 U.S.C. 1981).

SOL: 90 days from receiving a "Right to Sue" letter from the EEOC.
Agency: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)Federal agency administering various statutes, including Title VII, ADA, ADEA.

SOL (in NY): 300 days from the relevant discriminatory act(s).

Has a mediation program.
Agency: New York State Division of Human RightsSOL: 1 year.

Election of Remedies.
Agency: New York City Commission on Human RightsSOL: 1 year.

Election of Remedies.

If you have any questions about any of the above, please feel free to contact us today.