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To achieve our goal of keeping you informed, this blog is Part B of Part XIX and an update of our series on federal laws that apply to the issues of workplace harassment, discrimination, & retaliation in New York. In Part A, we provided you with an overview of“ Enforcement Mechanisms for Discrimination, Harassment, and/or Retaliation Violations” for various applicable federal laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA). Accordingly, we now move the discussion forward with an overview of “Enforcement Mechanism for Discrimination, Harassment, and/or Retaliation Violations” for additional applicable federal laws in this blog and Part B of Part XIX of the series.

Enforcement Mechanisms for Discrimination, Harassment, and/or Retaliation Violations under Federal Laws Applicable to Workplace Harassment, Discrimination, & Retaliation in New York.

NOTE: As mentioned in the previous blog and Part A of Part XIX, the information regarding the enforcement mechanisms for discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation violations under applicable federal laws discussed in this blog was current as of March 26, 2021.

Provision of Enforcement Mechanisms in New York

As mentioned in Part A, New York provides enforcement mechanisms for discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation violations under specific sections & statutes of federals applicable to discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation.

Enforcement Agencies Tasked with Enforcing these Applicable Federal Laws

The statutes and laws discussed in this part include the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Equal Pay Act (EPA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Section 1981, and the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).

Fair Labor Standards Act

The agency tasked with the duty of enforcing the FLSA is the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor (DOL) Employment Standards Administration. Employees can file a complaint with the DOL if they have suffered retaliation or believe they have a claim for unpaid wages. Claims brought under the FLSA are usually investigated by the Wage and Hour Division. Generally, the DOL can bring an enforcement action in federal court if it finds evidence that the FLSA has been violated as alleged by an employee but cannot resolve such complaints. However, employees have the right to bring claims in state or federal courts themselves.

Equal Pay Act

The EPA is also enforced federally by the EEOC. Individuals are allowed to file a lawsuit in court or raise a discrimination charge with the agency if they believe that the EPA has been violated by their employers. However, pursuant to section 29 U.S.C. § 255(a), complainants need not file a charge with the EEOC prior to initiating a lawsuit.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act

The ADEA is enforced by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). However, unlike under Title VII, the EEOC does not receive data concerning the employer’s workforce composition by age. Nonetheless, it can mediate, investigate, and/or receive discrimination complaints against covered employers. Just like under Title VII, a person is required to first file a discrimination charge with the EEOC before filing a lawsuit in a state or federal court alleging discrimination in violation of the ADEA. Further, such a charge must be filed with the EEOC within 180 calendar days from the day of the occurrence of the discrimination. However, if state law prohibits age discrimination in employment or such a law is enforced by a local or state agency, this deadline would be extended to 300 days by the EEOC. Pursuant to section 29 U.S.C. § 626(d)(1) of the ADEA, a lawsuit can be filed any time after 60 days have passed from the date an EEOC age discrimination charge was filed by a claimant. The EEOC can allow a person to proceed in a federal or state court or litigate the case itself if it finds evidence of discrimination.

Section 1981

Section 1981 allows individuals to file complaints under the law immediately and directly to court. As it has been held in past cases, complainants do not have to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or another administrative agency as a way of exhausting their administrative remedies first.

Immigration Reform and Control Act

IRCA’s anti-discrimination provisions are usually enforced by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices within the U.S. Department of Justice. Any individual is allowed to file a discrimination charge with the OSC if they believe that the IRCA has been violated by their employer. Pursuant to section 8 U.S.C. § 1324b(b)(2), the IRCA explicitly provides that unless the EEOC dismissed a given charge, employees might not file a charge with the OSC if the employee also filed a charge based on the same set of facts with the EEOC. This means that one cannot file claims with both the OSC and the EEOC. Where charges that allege IRCA violations are often referred between the EEOC and the OSC and vice versa, the two agencies have a memorandum of understanding.

The duty of investigating every charge and determining whether, within 120 days after a charge is received, the OSC will bring a complaint before an administrative law judge (ALJ) or whether there is “reasonable cause” to believe that the charge is valid is assigned to the OSC. An individual then has 90 days to file a complaint before an ALJ if the OSC chooses not to file a complaint. However, individuals are not provided the right to file a complaint in federal or state court by IRCA.

In Part C of Part XIX, we will continue hammering on “Enforcement Mechanism for Discrimination, Harassment, and/or Retaliation Violations,” as provided under additional federal laws applicable to workplace harassment, discrimination, & retaliation in New York, including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA).

Until then, stay tuned for more legal guidance, training, and counsel. In the interim, reach us with questions or comments on our website at the Contact Us page!

Always rising above the bar,

Isaac T.,

Legal Writer & Author.