Area of Law:
As much as federal laws and Connecticut state laws have tried to curb racial discrimination in the workplace, the fact remains that discrimination does still exist. The good news is that Connecticut has very strict laws governing how racial discrimination cases are handled. If you feel you have suffered racial discrimination where you work or when you were applying for a job, you are well within your rights to file a complaint at either the state or federal level, so you can get the compensation you deserve, including any back pay that may be applicable in your case.
In Connecticut, you have two options for filing a racial discrimination suit. At the state level, you can file your complaint with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO), which operates to enforce Connecticut's Fair Employment Practices Act, and at the federal level, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) takes care of racial discrimination complaints. Sometimes, you may be advised to file your complaint with both authorities. If you are unsure what to do, it is best to seek legal advice from a professional who is specialized in labor law because filing incorrectly can cause delays or even make you have to start the process from scratch.
Filing a complaint is not the same thing as filing a lawsuit, but it is the starting point. When you first enter your complaint, you will be given either a "right-to-sue" letter from the EEOC, or a "release of jurisdiction" from the CHRO. From this point, you have 90 days to begin the lawsuit proceedings, else the document becomes void. If you are filing in the state court, Connecticut has an additional requirement that you take no longer than two years from the initial date of your complaint to file your lawsuit with the CHRO. There is no such requirement at the federal level.
The EEOC, however, does have another statute of limitations regarding the amount of time you are allowed to wait after the incident in question takes place to file for your right to sue. From the day you were discriminated against, you have 180 days to file your complaint, but it is highly advisable to file sooner rather than later so as to avoid potential complications with other deadlines. If yours is a case of multiple dates of discriminatory behavior, you can start counting the 180 days from the most recent incident.
Discriminatory behavior can cover a wide scope of incidents, including the creation of a hostile work environment caused by stereotyping, racial slurs, or other unacceptable behavior. You should feel comfortable coming to work no matter what your race or ethnic origin, and if your colleagues or managers are preventing that from happening, you may have a case for racial discrimination. Your lawyer can advise you as to whether or not what happened to you can be classified as discrimination and what your chances would be of obtaining a settlement from the company.