Many employment discrimination laws require that an employee who believes they have been discriminated against must file within a very short timeframe, a formal document with a government agency explaining what happened to them. That document is often called a “Charge Of Discrimination.” The purpose of these laws requiring the filing of the charge discrimination is so that the government can investigate the claim while it’s still fresh, interview witnesses, make decisions about whether or not the law was violated, and sometimes in rare circumstances actually file the lawsuit on behalf of the employee.
For instance, (as of this writing in 2021) the Missouri Human Rights Act requires the employee to file a charge of discrimination within 180 days. Calculating that date, however, can be complicated. In addition, how the employee fills out the form, and which boxes they check, can be extremely important in both the outcome of the case and simply finding out whether or not it was timely filed.
The federal agency which is charged with investigating and enforcing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. To illustrate how complex some of these calculations can be, as of August 13, 2021 the EEOC’s website on this topic included this language:
“Time Limits For Filing A Charge
“The anti-discrimination laws give you a limited amount of time to file a charge of discrimination. In general, you need to file a charge within 180 calendar days from the day the discrimination took place. The 180 calendar day filing deadline is extended to 300 calendar days if a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis. The rules are slightly different for age discrimination charges. For age discrimination, the filing deadline is only extended to 300 days if there is a state law prohibiting age discrimination in employment and a state agency or authority enforcing that law. The deadline is not extended if only a local law prohibits age discrimination.
“Note: Federal employees and job applicants have a different complaint process, and generally must contact an agency EEO Counselor within 45 days. The time limit can be extended under certain circumstances.
“Regardless of how much time you have to file, it is best to file as soon as you have decided that is what you would like to do.
“Time limits for filing a charge with EEOC generally will not be extended while you attempt to resolve a dispute through another forum such as an internal grievance procedure, a union grievance, arbitration or mediation before filing a charge with EEOC. Other forums for resolution may be pursued at the same time as the processing of the EEOC charge.
“Holidays and weekends are included in the calculation, although if the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, you will have until the next business day. Figuring out how much time you have to file a charge is complicated. If you aren’t sure how much time is left, you should contact one of our field offices as soon as possible so we can assess whether you still have time.