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Pursuing legal action for age, sex discrimination in the workplace

In our previous post, we began speaking about discrimination based on age and sex, particularly in the context of the workplace. As we noted, discrimination is very often not obvious, and it is important for those who suspect they may have been subjected to illegal discrimination to work with an experienced attorney to explore the issue.

The important thing to understand is that it is illegal for employers to discriminate against individuals in any aspect of employment, including hiring, pay and benefits, job assignments, promotions, firing and layoffs, and other terms and conditions of employment. When there is evidence that an employee has been treated less favorably based on his or her age or sex, it may be time to take legal action.

At the federal level, individuals who want to pursue legal action against an employer for sex discrimination cannot immediately file a lawsuit in federal court. First, they must file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC will, after receiving a complaint, conduct an investigation and pursue any action it deems necessary. Once the investigation is complete, the complainant will typically receive notice that they have the right to sue, and then they are able to pursue a case in federal court, provided they file a lawsuit within 90 days.

Those who are pursuing a claim for age discrimination do not need to have notice of the right to sue—they may file a lawsuit in federal court any time after 60 days have passed since the day they filed a complaint with the EEOC, but no later than 90 days after receiving notice that the EEOC investigation is complete. Also, when an individual plans to sue under the Equal Pay Act, he or she doesn’t have to first file a complaint with the EEOC, but can go directly to the court system.

It is possible, in some circumstances, to file a lawsuit in federal court before the EEOC has finished its investigation. Those who have questions about how this process works should consult and experienced employment law attorney for guidance and advocacy.


EEOC, “Age Discrimination,” Accessed Nov. 13, 2015.

EEOC, “Sex Discrimination,” Accessed Nov. 13, 2015.

EEOC, “Filing a Lawsuit,” Accessed Nov. 13, 2015. 

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