How to File an Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

Filing a workplace discrimination lawsuit is one way to hold employers accountable when their employees have suffered from labor rights violations. Working in a toxic environment is stressful, humiliating and often traumatizing. But there are several legal remedies in place to help protect your rights, and you do not need to go down this path alone. 

Below is a summary of how to file an employment discrimination claim in North Carolina or South Carolina. This content is provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you believe you may have experienced workplace discrimination or are unsure how to file a discrimination claim against your employer, reach out for a consultation with the employment discrimination attorneys at Herrmann & Murphy.      

Do I Have Legal Grounds to Sue My Employer?

Federal and state laws prohibit employers from taking adverse actions against their employees based on who they are, rather than their work performance. Examples of workplace discrimination cases can include:

Employment discrimination is a serious problem that affects hardworking employees from all walks of life. However, it is important to note federal and state labor rights laws do not prohibit simple teasing, occasional offhand remarks or genuine misunderstandings. For an employer’s actions to meet the definition of workplace discrimination, an employee typically must provide evidence of a pattern of discriminatory behavior and/or a situation of blatant wrongdoing.   

Example scenarios of employment discrimination cases could include demoting a woman to a lesser position after announcing she is pregnant, or a transgender employee fearing for their safety at work after receiving threats of physical violence from coworkers. These are two of countless examples of discrimination cases. Set up a consultation with our employment discrimination attorneys to discuss your concerns.

Filing a Workplace Discrimination Lawsuit

  • Step 1: File a Complaint with Your Employer.
    When you have experienced prejudice or injustice at work, the first step is to notify your employer. Your employee handbook should specify the exact process for reporting a complaint, and it is important for you to follow these instructions precisely. If you do not have an employee handbook or are having trouble locating this information, reach out to your employer’s Human Resources department or your manager to ask for help.

    It can be emotionally difficult or scary to file an official complaint, particularly if you fear for your safety — but it is illegal for an employer to terminate or retaliate against an employee for filing a discrimination complaint. Remember to keep a copy of your complaint filing and any other relevant event logs, emails or documentation which can help substantiate your claims.

    You have the right to consult with a plaintiff employment lawyer at any time, including before or after filing a discrimination complaint with your employer.
  • Step 2: File a Charge of Discrimination With the EEOC.
    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws. If your employer does not successfully resolve your complaint, the next step would be to file a Charge of Discrimination at the state or regional office of the EEOC closest to you. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are encouraged to file a complaint online, if possible, instead of filing in-person.

    There are time limits to file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC. Legal action must be brought forth within 180 days from the date of a discriminatory act which occurred in North Carolina, and within 300 days of a discriminatory act in South Carolina.  

    If time allows, and the discriminatory action did not take place more than five months ago, it can be helpful to contact an attorney with plaintiff-side employment law expertise before going to the EEOC. An experienced attorney can also help draft and file a complaint with the EEOC on your behalf. 
  • Step 3: Moving Forward with an Employment Discrimination Lawsuit.
    An employment discrimination lawsuit cannot be filed without first being reported to the EEOC. The EEOC has 180 days (six months) to act on a complaint, which could include the employee being interviewed by an EEOC lawyer or investigator and/or participating in mediation with their employer.

    If your Charge of Discrimination has not been successfully resolved OR if the EEOC has not acted on your complaint after 180 days, you can request a Right to Sue Letter which authorizes you to move forward with filing a lawsuit against your employer. But time is of the essence: The lawsuit must be filed within 90 days (three months) of receiving a Right to Sue Letter. You should speak with an employment discrimination lawyer before requesting a Right to Sue letter.

Speak to Our North Carolina and South Carolina Discrimination Lawyers

Working in an environment where you feel violated or unsafe is unacceptable. If you are unsure how to file a discrimination lawsuit, reach out to the legal team of Herrmann & Murphy in North Carolina and South Carolina. Our compassionate, experienced attorneys will evaluate the next steps of your case and help explain how to file a discrimination complaint. Most importantly, we will fight to help you recover lost wages and receive the compensation you rightfully deserve.

To reach our Charlotte office in North Carolina, call (704) 940-6399
To reach our Greenville office in South Carolina, call (864) 516-7526.


Kevin Murphy of Herrmann & Murphy

Kevin Murphy

Sean Herrmann of Herrmann & Murphy

Sean Herrmann

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