Filing Complaints about Discrimination in the Workplace

You’ve disclosed your disability, made formal requests for accommodation, tried to negotiate with your supervisor, and discussed your needs and problems with your human resources representative or Employee Assistance Program personnel. But if you’re still facing discrimination at the office, it may be time to file a formal complaint under whatever laws are relevant to your situation. 

Filing a Complaint under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act

  • Has an employer asked you about your mental health before making you a job offer? Do you suspect your employer is using your psychiatric disability as an excuse to discriminate against you in hiring, advancement, firing, compensation, and training — denying you a deserved promotion, for example, or refusing you the training you need to advance?
  • Has your request for reasonable accommodations been turned down?

If the employer has 15 or more employees, this kind of discrimination is covered under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  To file a complaint under Title I of the ADA, contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the discrimination, or within 300 days if you file in a designated state or local fair employment practice agency. If the EEOC determines you have been discriminated against, it will send you a “right to sue” letter allowing you to file a lawsuit in federal court. To find the nearest EEOC office, look in the U.S. Government section of the telephone directory, or call (800) 669-4000 (voice) or (800) 669-6820 (TDD). 

Filing a Complaint under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act

  • Have you been excluded or segregated because of your disability? Has your employer refused reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures to accommodate your disability — for example, if you have problems working in an open cubicle surrounded by whirring printers and ringing phones, has your employer refused to let you move to a quieter workstation?
  • Have you been unable to take necessary courses and exams because the locations weren’t accessible and your employer refused to help you make alternate arrangements?

Situations like these are covered under Title III of the ADA.  To file a complaint under Title III of the ADA, contact the Disability Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division within 180 days of the date of the discrimination. You may also file a lawsuit in federal court without waiting for a “right to sue” letter. For details, call the Civil Rights Division at (800) 514-0301 (voice) or (800) 514-0383 (TDD). 

Filing a Complaint under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

If your disability substantially limits your ability to learn, work, speak, write, walk, see, or hear, and you work in a government office or for an employer which receives federal money, your employer is required to make “appropriate and reasonable” accommodations. If your employer refuses, you can file a complaint under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  To file a complaint under Section 504, contact the Disability Rights Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, at (800) 514-0301 (voice) or (800) 514-0383 (TDD).  


Note: The information contained in these pages is for educational purposes only, and is not legal advice. Individuals should contact the appropriate legal resources for specific legal advice regarding their particular situations.



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