Filing a Discrimination Claim - Utah

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

The Utah Antidiscrimination Act makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, and disability. Utah's law also prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy-related conditions.

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

A discrimination claim can be filed either with the state administrative agency, the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division (UALD) of the Utah Labor Commissioner's Office or 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 Utah anti-discrimination statute covers some smaller employers not covered by federal law for age discrimination claims only. Therefore, if your workplace has between 15 and 20 employees, you should file your age discrimination claim with the UALD, as the EEOC enforces federal law, which covers only employers with 20 or more employees in age discrimination cases, and 15 or more employees in other types of discrimination cases. Some attorneys recommend that you file with the UALD first for all types of discrimination claims.

To file a claim with the UALD, contact its office. More information about filing a claim with the UALD can be found at: UALD website.

Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division
Street Address:
160 East 300 South, 3rd Floor
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 146630
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-6630
Phone: (801) 530-6801
Toll Free: (800) 222-1238
TDD: (801) 530-7685
Fax: (801) 530-7609

To file a claim with the EEOC, contact your 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

3. What are my time deadlines?

Do not delay in contacting the UALD or EEOC to file a claim. There are strict time limits in which charges of employment discrimination must be filed. To preserve your claim, you must file with the UALD (or cross-file with the EEOC) within 180 days or 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. Yet if you are unable to find an attorney who will assist you, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file your discrimination claim with the state and federal administrative agencies.

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

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 UALD 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 filed in court without first going to the EEOC, as discussed above, and having the EEOC dismiss your claim. This process is called exhaustion of your administrative remedy. There is no private right of action under Utah law for discrimination claims, which means that you cannot file a lawsuit in court under Utah law.

Due to the speed, low cost, and higher success rate of the administrative process, some Utah attorneys choose to pursue employment discrimination cases before the Utah Labor Commission, rather than filing in federal court. In the Utah administrative process, compensatory (emotional pain and suffering) and punitive damages (damages to punish the employer) for a discrimination claim are not allowed as they are under federal law, although these damages are rarely awarded in Utah federal court cases anyway. However, most discrimination lawsuits can also be filed in federal court using federal law. Utah law does not permit a court action to be filed under state law, and 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 the document known as 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.) If you have received one of these EEOC notices, do not delay consulting with an attorney.

This deadline is called the statute of limitations. If your lawsuit is not filed by the deadline, then you may lose your ability to pursue a discrimination case.