Filing a Discrimination Claim - Arizona

1. What kinds of discrimination are against state law in Arizona?

The Arizona Civil Rights Act makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, age, physical disability (excluding current alcohol or drug use), and national origin.

2. How do I file a discrimination claim in Arizona?

A discrimination claim may be filed either with the state, through the state attorney general's Civil Rights Division (CRD), or with the federal administrative agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The two agencies have a work-sharing agreement, which means that the agencies cooperate with each other to process claims. Filing a claim with both agencies is unnecessary, as long as you indicate to one of the agencies that you want it to cross-file the claim with the other agency.

The Arizona anti-discrimination statute covers some smaller employers not covered by federal law for sexual harassment claims only. Therefore, if your workplace has between 1 and 14 employees and you have a sexual harassment claim, you should file with the CRD, as the EEOC enforces federal law, which covers only employers with 15 or more employees. If your workplace has 15 or more employees, you may file with either agency.

To file a claim with the CRD, contact the nearest office below. More information about filing a claim with the CRD can be found at: http://www.azag.gov/civil_rights/index.html.

Phoenix
Office of the Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
1275 West Washington Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85007-2997
Main Phone: 602-542-5263
Toll-Free: 877-491-5742
Facsimile: 602-542-8885
TDD: 602-542-5002
Toll-Free TDD: 877-624-8090

Yuma
Office of the Attorney General
221 South 2nd Avenue #2
Yuma, Arizona 85364
Main Phone: 520-819-0113
Facsimile: 520-819-0518
Toll-Free: 800-962-6379
Tucson
Office of the Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
400 West Congress, S-215
Tucson, Arizona 85701-1367
Main Phone: 520-628-6500
Toll-Free: 877-491-5740
Facsimile: 520-628-6765
TDD: 520-628-6872
Toll-Free TDD: 877-881-7552

Prescott
Office of the Attorney General
1523 West Gurley Street
Prescott, Arizona 86305
Main Phone: 520-443-7740 ext. 22
Facsimile: 520-443-7745

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 http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/howtofil.html.

EEOC's Phoenix District Office
3300 N. Central Avenue
Suite 690
Phoenix, AZ 85012-1848
Phone: 602-640-5000
TTY: 602-640-5072

You may also wish to check with your city or county to see if you live and/or work in a city or county with a local anti-discrimination ordinance. Some cities and counties in Arizona have agencies that process claims under local ordinances and may be able to assist you. These agencies are often called the Human Rights Commission, Human Relations Commission, or the Civil Rights Commission. Check your local telephone directory or government website for further information. You can find a list of Arizona cities and counties, with links to government websites, at http://www.azcommerce.com/CommAsst/Profiles/.

3. What are my time deadlines?

Do not delay in contacting the CRD or EEOC to file a claim. To proceed with your state claim, you must file with the CRD (or cross-file with the EEOC) within 180 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. To proceed with your federal claim, you must file with the EEOC (or cross-file with the state agency) within 300 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. However, as you might have other legal claims with shorter deadlines, do not wait to file your claim until your time limit is close to expiring. You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, if possible. But if you are unable to find an attorney who will assist you, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file a discrimination claim with the state and federal administrative agencies.

4. How can I or my attorney pursue a claim in court in Arizona?

If your case is successfully resolved by an administrative agency, it may not be necessary to hire an attorney or file a lawsuit (to resolve your case, you probably will be required as to sign a release of your legal claims). If your case is not resolved by the CRD or EEOC, however, you may need to pursue your claim in court.

A federal employment discrimination case cannot be filed in court until the claim is filed with the EEOC, as discussed above, and the EEOC dismisses your claim. This process is called exhaustion of your administrative remedy. Similarly, before you can proceed with a lawsuit based on your state discrimination claim, you must file with the CRD.

Because Arizona state law limits the damages recoverable for a discrimination claim, many Arizona attorneys choose to file employment discrimination cases in state court using federal law; however, cases may be brought in either state or federal court. A case filed in state court using federal law may be removed to federal court by the employer, because it involves a federal statute such as Title VII or the ADEA.

The EEOC must first issue a Dismissal and Notice of Rights or Notice of Right to Sue, (Form 161) before you can file a case based upon your federal claim. A lawsuit based on your federal discrimination claim must be filed in federal or state court within 90 days of the date you receive the notice. (Be sure to mark down that date when you receive the notice.) A lawsuit based on your state claim must be filed within 90 days of receiving a similar notice from the CRD.

These legal deadlines are called the statute of limitations. If you have received one of these agency dismissal notices, do not delay consulting with an attorney. If your lawsuit is not filed by the deadline, you may lose your ability to pursue a discrimination case.