How to File a Charge of Discrimination

Discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability is prohibited by federal law. Florida outlaws discrimination on these bases and also prohibits discrimination based on marital status. Some cities and counties prohibit employment discrimination on other bases, such as political affiliation and sexual orientation, as well.

Generally, the laws that prohibit employment discrimination also outlaw retaliation against an employee who has sought protection of anti-discrimination laws. To be covered by these laws, however, the employer must have 15 or more employees (some city and county ordinances apply to smaller employers) for a specified period of time. In order to enjoy the remedies these laws provide, an employee first must file a charge of discrimination with the appropriate agency within a limited period of time after the act of discrimination occurs.

While not all prohibited employment practices require a charge of discrimination to be filed in order to enjoy the remedies the law provides (for example, claims under the Equal Pay Act, which requires employers to pay men and women equally for equal work, and claims for over-time pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act do not), if you are not sure which employment laws protect you, be sure you have filed a charge within the shortest time limit that may apply.

Charges of discrimination alleging violations of Florida law must be filed with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) within 365 days of the discriminatory or retaliatory job action. Go to the Florida Commission on Human Relations website and click on the "Complaints" button for details about how and where to file a state charge. Follow the link entitled "Where to File" to be redirected to a map showing where to file your charge of discrimination in each Florida county. You can download a copy of FCHR Technical Assistance Questionnaire and instructions from this page or from the FCHR's website. (Forms at both sites are in PDF format and require special software to view or print them. To download Adobe Acrobat Reader FREE, click here).

Federal charges of discrimination must be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days in Florida ( and as few as 180 days other states, where some of the work investigating the charges is not deferred to state or local agencies) of the last act of discrimination or retaliation. Download a copy of the EEOC charge form in PDF format. Instructions for filing a charge of discrimination are also on the EEOC website.