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Filing a Discrimination Claim - Texas

1. What kinds of discrimination are against state law in Texas?

Texas law Texas Lab. Code §§21.051, 21.101 makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability.

2. How do I file a discrimination claim in Texas?

A discrimination claim can be filed either with the state administrative agency, the Texas Workforce Commission -- Civil Rights Division (TWC-CRD) or the federal administrative agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The two agencies have what is called a “work-sharing agreement,” which means that the agencies cooperate with each other to process claims. Filing a claim with both agencies is unnecessary, as long as you indicate to one of the agencies that you want it to “cross-file” the claim with the other agency. If you are a state employee with an age discrimination or disability discrimination claim, you should be sure to file a timely claim under Texas state law, because the state may have immunity from certain kinds of claims under the ADA or ADEA.

To file a claim with the TWC-CRD, contact its office below. More information about filing a claim with the TWC-CRD can be found at How to File An Employment Discrimination Complaint.

Texas Workforce Commission -- Civil Rights Division
1117 Trinity St., Room 144T
Austin, Texas 78701
Toll-free within Texas: (888) 452-4778
Intake Questionnaire

To file a claim with the EEOC, contact your closest local EEOC office. More information about filing a claim with the EEOC can be found at http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/howtofil.html.

Dallas District Office
207 S. Houston Street
3rd Floor
Dallas, TX 75202-4726
Phone: (214) 655-3355
TTY: (214) 655-3363

El Paso Area Office
300 E. Main Drive
Suite 500
El Paso, TX 79901
Phone: (915) 534-6700
TTY: (915) 534-6710
Houston District Office
1919 Smith Street, 7th Floor
Houston, TX 77002
Phone: (713) 209-3320
TTY: (713) 209-3367

San Antonio District Office
5410 Fredericksburg Road
Suite 200
San Antonio, TX 78229-3555
Phone: (210) 281-7600
TTY: (210) 281-7610

3. What are my time deadlines?

Do not delay in contacting the TWC-CRD or EEOC to file a claim. There are strict time limits in which charges of employment discrimination must be filed. To preserve your claim under state law, you must file with the TWC-CRD (or cross-file with the EEOC) within 180 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. To preserve your claim under federal law, you must file with the EEOC (or cross-file with the state agency) within 300 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. However, as you might have other legal claims with shorter deadlines, do not wait to file your claim until your time limit is close to expiring. You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, if possible. Yet if you are unable to find an attorney who will assist you, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file your claim with the state and federal administrative agencies.

You may also wish to check with your city or county to see if you live and/or work in a city or county with a local anti-discrimination law, or “ordinance.” Some cities and counties in Texas (including Austin, Fort Worth, and Corpus Christi) have agencies that process claims under local ordinances and may be able to assist you. These agencies are often called the “Human Rights Commission,” “Human Relations Commission,” or the “Civil Rights Commission.” Check your local telephone directory or government website for further information.

4. How can I or my attorney pursue a claim in court in Texas?

If your case is successfully resolved by an administrative agency, it may not be necessary to hire an attorney or file a lawsuit (to resolve your case, you probably will be required as to sign a release of your legal claims). If your case is not resolved by the TWC-CRD or EEOC and you maywant to continue to pursue the matter, you will need to pursue your claim in court. A federal employment discrimination case cannot be filed in court without first going to the EEOC, as discussed above, and having the EEOC dismiss your case. This process is called “exhaustion” of your administrative remedy. Similarly, before you can proceed with a lawsuit based on your state discrimination claim, you must file with the TWC-CRD. Under both TWC-CRD and EEOC rules, you must allow the agency at least 180 days to investigate the charge before proceeding with your claim in court.

Cases may be brought in either state or federal court. A case filed in state court under federal law may be subject to removal, which means that a defendant employer requests to move the case to federal court because it involves a federal statute, such as Title VII or the ADEA.

Once the EEOC issues the document known as “Dismissal and Notice of Rights” or “Notice of Right to Sue” (Form 161), only then can you file a case based upon your federal claim. A lawsuit based on your state claim must be filed within 60 days of the date the TWC issues its own ‘right to sue’ letter (or dismisses your case), or within 2 years from the date your state law charge was filed, whichever is earlier. (Be sure to mark down that date when you receive the notice.) After your case has been pending with the TWC-CRD for 180 days, then you may request a similar “right-to-sue” letter from TWC-CRD to proceed with your state claim. A lawsuit based on your state claim must be filed within 60 days of the date TWC-CRD dismisses your case or 2 years from the date your charge was filed, whichever is earlier. These deadlines are called the “statute of limitations.”

If you have received one of these agency dismissal notices, do not delay consulting with an attorney. If your lawsuit is not filed by the deadline, then you may lose your ability to pursue a discrimination case.