How Do I File a Claim?
How do I begin filing a claim for employment discrimination?
The first step is to file a charge with an administrative agency. The two agencies responsible for employment discrimination claims are the Maryland Commission on Human Relations (MCHR) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC and MCHR have a work-sharing agreement that enables an employee in Maryland to file with either agency. Most cases have been filed under the federal law, so to learn details about that procedure, see EEOC How to File a Claim. Below is the procedure for filing a claim with the MCHR.
What is the MCHR?
The MCHR is a group of commissioners appointed by the governor that are dedicated to lessening all forms of discrimination through enforcing discrimination laws and promoting better human relations. They may conduct surveys, investigations, and recommend to the governor changes in Maryland law.
The MCHR handles all charges concerning alleged violations of Maryland's Fair Employment Practices Law and Maryland's Equal Pay Act.
Who can I file a charge against?
To file a charge with the MCHR under the Fair Employment Practices Law, your employer must have 15 or more employees. This does not mean that if your employer has less than 15 employees that it is legal for them to discriminate. It only means that they are exempt from the MCHR administrative process. You can still privately sue your employer for discrimination if they have less than 15 employees.
What do I put in the Charge?
Your charge will have to include the name and address of your employer and description of the discrimination as well other information as specifically requested by the Commission.
Is there a time limit?
Yes, a charge must be filed with the MCHR within 180 days (six months) of the date that the last discriminatory act or event at issue took place.
These time limitations are strict. Although there are some exceptions, do not delay in filing a charge. It is always best to file sooner as opposed to later. If the discrimination is part of a "continuing practice" of your employer (that is, if another related violation occurred within the six month period), then you may file later. But in all cases you must be careful to file within six months of the most recent discriminatory act, or your charge may be time-barred.
Once I've filed a charge, what happens next?
Once a charge has been filed with the MCHR, the executive director will read the complaint and refer it to the commission staff for prompt investigation. The investigator may contact any witnesses or request documents to find out more about the facts. After the Commission completes their investigation, they will determine whether they believe there is probable cause (enough evidence) to believe you were discriminated against. Once this is complete, they will forward this determination and their findings to you and your employer.
Can I reach a settlement with my employer?
If the MCHR determines there is probable cause to support your claims, the first thing they will do attempt to negotiate a settlement between you and your employer. If an agreement is reached, then the Commission will write an order setting forth the terms of the agreement.
What if I we cannot reach a settlement?
If no agreement is reached, then the Commission will make note of it and send copies of the findings to both parties involved.
The MCHR will then send the complete results of its investigation to your employer and it will either represent you at a hearing before an administrative law judge or it will allow you to file suit on your own behalf at the circuit court of the county where the discrimination took place.
What if the Commission doesn't find probable cause, or if their investigation is taking to long?
At any time after 180 days of filing the charge with the MCHR, you may sue in court.
How do I file a claim with the MCHR?
To file a claim with the MCHR, contact the closest office below. For more information about filing a claim with MCHR, see The Maryland Commission on Human Relations.
Howard County Office of Human Rights
Montgomery County Human Relations Commission
Prince George's County Human Relations Commission (HRC)
Exec Director: D. Michael Lyles, Esquire
Chairperson: Nichele Vaughan
There are also MCHR offices in Hagerstown (Western Maryland), Cambridge, Salisbury (Eastern Shore), and Leonardtown (Southern Maryland).
How do I file a claim with the EEOC?
To file a claim with the EEOC, contact your local EEOC office below. More information about filing a claim with the EEOC can be found at Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
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