The Sheet Metal Worker’s International Association, a trade union for metal workers who perform architectural work with sheet metal, has agreed to pay over $12 million to a group of minority workers following a charge of race discrimination brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the agreement, which is pending approval in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the union will pay $12.7 million to African American and Hispanic workers who were denied employment opportunities because of discriminatory practices. This settlement is part of a forty-four (44) yearlong proceeding which started in 1971. In 1971, the EEOC initially filed a lawsuit against Local 28 (the Sheet Metal Worker’s International Association) claiming that the union denied union membership and jobs to African American and Hispanic workers. Local 28 was found guilty of racial discrimination in 1975. However, the union did not properly address and correct its discriminatory practices resulting in the United States Court of Appeals rendering additional opinions on the case in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. The current settlement will cover nearly four hundred (400) workers who were discriminated against between 1991 and 2006. Filing a complaint with the EEOC If you believe that you have been unlawfully discriminated against in your workplace, you can file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC. All of the laws that are enforced by the EEOC, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, require that the claimant file a Charge of Discrimination with the agency before filing a federal lawsuit. Timeliness is a key element of filing a charge with the EEOC. A charge must generally be filed within 180 days from the day that the discrimination occurred. In New York, however, the limit for filing a complaint is extended to 300 days. After the 300 day limit, your claim will no longer be considered valid by the EEOC. Filing a complaint with New York State or City agency As an alternative to filing with the EEOC, employees in New York City can file a claim with the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) for which the time limits for filing with the two agency is one (1) year from the date of the discriminatory incident. Note that one cannot file a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights if you have already filed with a State or Federal agency. If you would like advice about which government agency to file with, contact a lawyer at Akin Law Group as soon as possible for advice. Our lawyers are highly experienced in matters of federal, state, and city employment law, and can help you determine the best course of action.