Area of Law:
Workers in the state of New Hampshire are protected under federal civil rights law from racial discrimination in the workplace, and the New Hampshire Law against Discrimination offers further protection. If you work in the state of New Hampshire and feel that you have been the victim of workplace racial discrimination, you have the right to file a formal complaint to get your claim investigated. This can be done either at the state or federal level, and the route that your lawyer will advise you to take will depend upon the particulars of your case.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles all racial discrimination complaints coming from companies with at least fifteen employees, and the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights (NHCHR) deals with employers who have as few as six employees. Therefore, if you work for a small company, filing at the state level may be the way to go. Even if you qualify to file at the federal level, some lawyers may still advise you to file at the state level because it may be more convenient, or you may receive a speedier response. The NHCHR is known for responding to claims in a prompt and thorough manner; plus, it is said to have a better mediation process than the EEOC.
If you would like to file with both authorities, you can do so with minimum hassle. It's not necessary to file separately at the state and federal levels; all you have to do is take your claim to the NHCHR and ask a staff member to cross-file the claim with the EEOC. Both agencies work together to process claims, so there is no need to pursue a separate claim with each agency.
If you have experienced a racial discrimination incident in your workplace, it's important that you do not wait to take action. Both the NHCHR and the EEOC have a 180-day statute of limitations for filing a racial discrimination claim. However, there may be other legal deadlines that you are up against as well, so it's important to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. If your hesitation stems from a fear that you will be retaliated against or that you will lose your job, you should understand that it's also an offense to retaliate against an employee for defending his or her civil rights, and if you do lose your job as a result of filing a complaint, you can add this transgression to your complaint as well.
New Hampshire law is very clear about what does and what does not constitute racial discrimination in the workplace. Not only is your employer not allowed to make hiring and firing decisions based on race or skin color, but absolutely no policies are permitted to be racially motivated; you have the right to feel safe and comfortable at work. This means that if there are racial comments, threats, or harassment which leads to a hostile work environment, you are entitled to file a racial discrimination claim.