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Fact Sheet: Complainant's Right to Pursue a Claim in Court

This fact sheet was designed to inform complainants of their right to remove their case from the Commission and file a claim in court. The Commission expresses no opinion as to whether this is desirable in any particular case.

Ninety (90) days after you have filed a complaint at the Commission, you have the right to remove your case from the Commission and file a lawsuit in state superior court or federal court. You may remove the case at any time during the Commission process up until three years of the date of the last discriminatory act (i.e. termination, discipline, last act of harassment) or the Commission public hearing, whichever comes first.

In order to remove your case, you must file a written complaint in court and you must notify the Commission in writing that you have done so. The court will charge you a fee for filing your complaint. If you remove your case to court, your claim at the Commission will be dismissed and the Commission cannot assist you in your court case. If you choose to remove your case, you must file a complaint in court within three years of the date of the last discriminatory act or the case will be dismissed.

If you keep your case at the Commission and the Commission determines that there is probable cause to support your claim of discrimination, you will receive a public hearing before a Hearing Commissioner or Hearing Officer (similar to a judge). The Commission will appoint one of its lawyers to assist you at the hearing if you do not have your own. If, on the other hand, you file a claim in court, you may be entitled to a trial before a jury, but you will not receive any assistance from the Commission.

If the Commission finds in your favor after the hearing, you will be entitled to recover damages for lost pay, emotional distress, out-of-pocket expenses and other monetary losses. If you prevail on a claim in court, you may also be entitled to punitive damages, which are unavailable at the Commission.

The Commission does not advise complainants to remove, or not remove, their cases from the agency. However, you may want to consider these issues as well as consult with a lawyer to assist you in deciding what is the best course of action in your particular case. The Commission cannot refer you to a lawyer.