News & Insights

Deadlines to File Charges of Discrimination in Delaware May Be Enlarged

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Delaware State Senator Karen E. Peterson (Democrat from District 9) appears poised to propose a new bill that would amend Title 19 of the Delaware Code relating to discrimination in employment. The bill would increase the amount of time provided to a person seeking to file a state charge of employment discrimination from 120 days to 300 days.

Federal law requires the filing of a charge within 180 days from the date of the alleged violation, in order to protect the charging party’s rights. However, the 180-day filing deadline may be extended to 300 days if the charge also is covered by a state or local anti-discrimination law. Since Delaware provides such coverage, the filing deadline typically is 300 days for federal charges. Most litigants with a claim falling under both state and federal law dual file with both the Delaware Department of Labor (“DDOL”) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”); but start with the DDOL. Once a right to sue letter is issued with DDOL, the file typically transfers to the EEOC.

The change would not be without significance, however, because Delaware law protects more classes than does federal law. Furthermore, employers not covered by similar federal law are covered by Delaware law (e.g., Delaware’s discrimination laws – including its disability law – apply to employers having only four employees while the federal laws do not apply to employers that small). Thus, claims that might currently be dismissed would, if this becomes law, find a path forward.

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