Filing a Discrimination Claim - Idaho

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

Idaho law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age (persons aged 40 and older) and disability.

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

Discrimination claims can be filed either with the state administrative agency, the Idaho Human Rights Commission (IHRC) or with the federal administrative agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The two agencies have what is called 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 Idaho anti-discrimination law covers some smaller employers not covered by federal law. Therefore, if your workplace has between 5 and 14 employees, you should file with the IHRC, 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 IHRC, contact its office below. More information about filing a claim with the IHRC can be found at http://humanrights.idaho.gov/.

Idaho Human Rights Commission
1109 Main Street, Fourth Floor
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0040
Phone: (208) 334-2873
Toll Free (888) 249-7025
TDD (208) 334-4751
FAX (208) 334-2664

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 Seattle District Office
Federal Office Building
909 First Avenue, Suite 400
Seattle, WA 98104-1061
Phone: 206-220-6883
TTY: 206-220-6882

3. What are my time deadlines?

Do not delay in contacting the IHRC or EEOC to file a claim. There are strict time limits in which charges of employment discrimination must be filed. To preserve your claim under state law, you must file with the IHRC (or cross-file with the EEOC) within one year of the date you believe you were discriminated against. To preserve your claim under federal law, 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 until your time limit is close to expiring to file your claim. 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 your claim with the state and federal administrative agencies.

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

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 IHRC or EEOC and you may want to continue to pursue the matter, you will need to pursue your claim in court. A federal employment discrimination case cannot be heard in court without first going to the EEOC, as discussed above, and having the EEOC dismiss your case. 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 first file with the IHRC.

Because Idaho's state antidiscrimination statute may limit recovery with respect to damages and attorney fees, many attorneys in Idaho choose to file employment discrimination claims in either federal or state court, but prefer to use federal law.

Once the EEOC issues the document known as Dismissal and Notice of Rights or Notice of Right to Sue (Form 161), only then can you file a case in court based upon your federal claim. A lawsuit based on a 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 also be filed within 90 days of receiving a similar notice from the IHRC. These 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, then you may lose your ability to pursue a discrimination case.