SW Legal studies in Business

Administrative Procedure Requirements Must Be Followed or Case Is Barred
Description Florida appeals court held that a former employee who filed a race discrimination complaint against her former employer lost her right to sue because she failed to request an administrative hearing after the Commission on Human Relations had issued a "no cause" finding on her complaint.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Procedure; Hearing Requirements
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Woodham filed a complaint against her former employer for racial discrimination. The complaint alleged a violation of the Florida Civil Rights Act. It was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which acted as a dual filing with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR). The FCHR took over the complaint, under an agreement between the EEOC and the FCHR to share cases. Woodham did not receive a determination letter from the agency within 180 days, as contemplated by the statute governing procedure. Over 300 days after she filed her original complaint, she requested a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC. The EEOC issued her a "no cause" determination, a dismissal, and a notice of rights on her claim. She then sued her former employer in state court. The trial judge dismissed the suit, holding that her claim was barred because she failed to follow agency procedure after receiving the no-cause letter by requesting an administrative hearing as required by the Civil Rights Act. Woodham appealed.
Decision Affirmed. If no determination is received within the 180-day period, a person may choose to file suit or proceed with administrative relief. Woodham could also have sued after the 180 days despite not having received a no-cause letter. However, once the no-cause determination was issued, Woodham was required under the Civil Rights Act to pursue administrative remedies by requesting a hearing before the FCHR. Because she did not do so, she has no right to sue in court and her case is barred.
Citation Woodham v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Inc., - So.2d - (2001 WL 575105, Ct. App., Fla., 2001)

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