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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the investigative process?
After a sworn complaint is filed, OCRE assigns an investigator to the case and sends copy of the complaint to the party or parties accused of engaging in discrimination. The accused party is called the “Respondent” and will be required to respond to the allegations and provide evidence supporting its position. The investigator will gather evidence and testimony from the complaining party, the Respondent, and any third parties who may have relevant evidence. After a thorough investigation is completed, OCRE will decide whether there is reasonable cause to believe unlawful discrimination or retaliation occurred.
Is there a fee for services?
Is this a lawsuit?
No. Filing a complaint initiates an administrative process that must be completed before a lawsuit may be filed. As a result of the administrative investigative process, the OCRE may file a lawsuit on behalf of the complainant or may issue to the complainant a “Dismissal and Notice of Right to Sue,” which grants the complainant the right to file a lawsuit within 90 days.
How long does it take to investigate a complaint, and why?
The amount of time required to investigate a complaint depends upon the nature of the complaint, the number of issues involved, the complexity of the issues, the degree of participation and cooperation of the parties, and various additional factors, including but not limited to the existing caseload of the investigator. Each complaint is different and investigated accordingly. OCRE works as diligently as possible to complete the investigation promptly.
Why is age discrimination based only on 40 years of age and over?
The age requirement of at least 40 years and above is set by state and federal statute.
Do I need an attorney?
No, you are not required to obtain an attorney, but you may do so at any time. If you do obtain an attorney, you must advise the assigned investigator immediately so that OCRE may contact your attorney regarding your complaint.
What will happen after the investigation is completed?
There are several things that can happen once your investigation is completed depending upon the determination made by OCRE. Examples of things that can happen include but are not limited to administrative closure of the case, notice of a finding of cause or no cause to believe discrimination occurred, dismissal and notice of your right to file suit within 90 days, conciliation and settlement of the complaint, and the filing of civil court enforcement action by the OCRE to obtain legal relief on behalf of the complainant.
What does the OCRE do if discrimination is found and what do I get out of it?
If OCRE determines after the investigation that there was reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred, the parties are notified and attempts to successfully resolve the complaint are conducted. With employment discrimination complaints, if resolution attempts are unsuccessful, the complaining party may request his or her state and federal right to sue; the complaint may be forwarded to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for possible further processing; or the OCRE may file a civil enforcement action in State court to obtain legal relief on behalf of the complainant. In housing discrimination complaints, if resolution attempts are unsuccessful, either of the parties may elect to proceed to an appropriate court.
What is the difference between the Office of Civil Rights Enforcement (OCRE) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)?
OCRE is a division of the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office that has jurisdiction to investigate, conciliate, and litigate employment, housing, and public accommodation discrimination complaints. EEOC is the federal agency that investigates employment discrimination complaints alleging violations of federal law by employers with at least 15 or more employees.
Is OCRE my attorney, and do you represent me?
No. The OCRE does not represent or serve as counsel for individual complainants. The OCRE is a neutral state agency that represents the interests of the State of Oklahoma and that is charged with the responsibility of investigating, conciliating, and litigating discrimination complaints on behalf of the citizens of the State of Oklahoma.
What is the deadline for filing a discrimination complaint?
Complaints of employment discrimination must be filed with the OCRE within 180 days from the last alleged discriminatory act or the right to seek legal relief may be lost.
Complaints of public accommodation discrimination also must be filed within 180 days from the last alleged discriminatory act or the right to seek legal relief may be lost.
Complaints of housing discrimination must be filed within one (1) year from the last alleged discriminatory act or the right to seek legal relief may be lost.
If you have questions or concerns not resolved by the information above, please call (405) 522-4815. We will be glad to help however we can.