News & Insights

Indiana Employers Beware: Employment Discrimination Lawsuits and Claims Ever Present
May 30, 2014
by Brett Hummer

 

South Bend / Mishawaka, IN – Indiana employers may think it cannot happen to them. They adhere to their equal employment opportunity policies and commitment to providing workplaces free of unlawful discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. But all it takes is one disgruntled employee who feels they have been wronged, and suddenly the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) will come knocking on the employer’s door.

Indiana employers may think they do right by their employees, and that they would never be sued for employment discrimination. The EEOC’s statistics tell a different story. Indiana employers are not immune from being faced with employment discrimination, harassment, or retaliation lawsuits or discrimination charges filed with the EEOC.

Earlier this year, the EEOC issued its annual enforcement and litigation data. More than 3,000 of the 93,727 charges of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation the EEOC received during the 2013 fiscal year were filed against Indiana employers. That may seem like an insignificant number upon first glance, but charges filed against Indiana employers accounted for 3.3% of all the charges filed in the United States last year. To put that in perspective, the state of New York, which dwarfs Indiana’s population, accounted for 3.8% of all charges filed with the EEOC. Ohio, whose population is nearly double that of the Hoosier state, accounted for the same percentage of charges as Indiana (i.e., 3.3%). Indiana employers should think again – and think twice about their equal employment practices and how their supervisors are trained to handle discrimination and harassment complaints – if they think the odds of being sued by their employees for discrimination, harassment, or retaliation are slim.

The EEOC’s statistics do not identify how many of the Indiana discrimination charges proceeded to litigation last year. However, even if the EEOC does not take an employee’s discrimination or harassment charge to Court on behalf of the employee, the EEOC usually issues the employee a “Right to Sue” letter, which then permits the employee to file a lawsuit in a United States District Court within ninety (90) days of the conclusion of the EEOC proceeding. For Indiana employers, an employee bringing suit after the filing of an EEOC charge will typically commence the lawsuit in the United States District Courts for the Northern District of Indiana or the Southern District of Indiana, depending on where the employee resides, where the employer transacts business, or where the events that relate to the alleged discrimination, harassment, or retaliation occurred. The federal Court in the Northern District of Indiana has divisional courts in South Bend, Hammond, Fort Wayne, and Lafayette, and the federal Court in the Southern District of Indiana has divisional courts in Indianapolis, Terre Haute, Evansville, and New Albany.

Indiana employers sued for unlawful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation under Title VII should promptly contact experienced legal counsel to ensure their rights are protected. Additional information about the EEOC’s litigation statistics can be found on the EEOC’s website: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/index.cfm.

The content of this article is for information purposes only, and neither contains nor should be considered legal advice.

 

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