If you are 40 years or older and were terminated from your job in Dallas or Fort Worth, you may have a claim that you were wrongfully fired based on age discrimination. Both the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code protect you against this illegal type of discrimination.
However, you must meet a strict deadline, also referred to as the statute of limitations, for filing a civil lawsuit against your employer. If you fail to comply with this deadline, your complaint will most likely be dismissed. In an age discrimination case, there are two steps to filing a civil lawsuit and two different time periods that must be followed.
Deadline to File Your Administrative Complaint With the TWCCRD or EEOC
Before you file a civil lawsuit for wrongful termination against your employer, you must file an administrative complaint with the Texas Workforce Division—Civil Rights Division (TWCCRD) to protect your rights under Texas law and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for violation of the ADEA. These agencies have an agreement to share information about your complaint. You can file a complaint with either agency and indicate that you want to “cross-file” the claim with the other agency to protect your right to sue under both Texas and federal law. The agency you file with is the one that is most likely to investigate your claim on behalf of both agencies.
There is a different statute of limitations for filing state and federal complaints. Here are the deadlines that you must follow:
● Texas Labor Code. To preserve your claim of age discrimination under Texas law, you must file an administrative complaint with the TWCCRD (or cross-file it with the EEOC) within 180 days of the date the discrimination occurred.
● ADEA. You must file an administrative complaint with the EEOC or cross-file it with the TWCCRD within 300 days of the date the discrimination occurred to protect your claim of age discrimination under the ADEA.
Even though you may have plenty of time to meet these time periods, you strengthen your claim by filing an administrative complaint soon after you believe you were the victim of discrimination, since witnesses are more likely to have the events fresh in their mind, and documents are more likely to be accessible. You also hasten your right to bring suit by not delaying at the administrative level.
Deadline to File a Lawsuit Against Your Employer
Both agencies have 180 days to investigate your administrative complaint before you can request a “right to sue” letter, which closes the administrative claim and allows you to file a lawsuit in state or federal court. The EEOC will send you a Dismissal and Notice of Rights or Notice of Right to Sue form at the end of their investigation. The TWCCRD will send you their own Right to Sue letter or notice that your case has been dismissed. Here are the statutes of limitations for filing your lawsuit:
● Federal claim. You must file your lawsuit for violation of the ADEA within 90 days of receiving your Dismissal or Right to Sue Letter from the EEOC.
● State law claim. A lawsuit for age discrimination in violation of the Texas Labor Code must be filed within 60 days of the date that you receive the TWCCRD right to sue or dismissal letter, but the lawsuit can be filed no later than two years from the date your administrative complaint was filed, whichever is shorter.
It can be very complicated to file a complaint for wrongful termination due to age discrimination and to meet the strict deadlines for doing so. Attorney Walt Taylor is an experienced employment law attorney who has many years of experience helping victims of employment discrimination. If you were wrongfully terminated from your job in the Dallas, Fort Worth, or Mid-Cities areas, call our office today to schedule your free initial consultation to learn more about your legal options.