This blog has previously discussed the various forms of employment discrimination that Oklahoma and federal law forbid, along with the process used to file a claim with the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. But, what if that doesn't work, or if a worker wants to file a suit and have their day in court?
When discussing workplace discrimination lawsuits in Oklahoma, one issue that may come up is that there is no private cause of action in Oklahoma for employment discrimination, unless that discrimination is on the basis of one's disability. What this means is that there is no basis for filing a non-disability-related employment discrimination lawsuit in Oklahoma state courts. The only redress within the state legal system is to file a claim with OHRC.
This does not mean that a lawsuit cannot be filed at all, however. One of the interesting aspects of the American legal system is the interaction between state and federal courts. An employee who might not have a cause of action for employment discrimination under Oklahoma law could have one under federal law if the suit is filed in a federal district court. It is not as simple as that, however. For an individual to file an employment discrimination suit in federal court, one must receive a "notice of right to sue." This document comes from the federal EEOC and means that a request must be filed with that agency before a lawsuit can be commenced.
As can be seen, there are various methods by which a person can go about seeking redress for having their civil rights violated by an employer. While one can seek the aid of either the state or federal anti-discrimination agencies, if an individual wishes to have their day in court, the process can get complicated. If this is the case, one may want to consider seeking the advice of an experienced Oklahoma employment law attorney who can help guide them to the right place to seek the compensation they deserve.