State Law: Kentucky


The Law

The Kentucky Civil Rights Act, KRS Chapter 344.00, makes it illegal for an employer or labor organization to discriminate against someone on the basis of sex.

The Kentucky statute against discrimination in the workplace applies to all employers with eight or more employees, while Title VII only applies to employers with 15+ employees.

"Discrimination" is defined as "any direct or indirect act or practice of exclusion, distinction, restriction, segregation, limitation, refusal, denial, or any other act or practice of differentiation or preference in the treatment of a person or persons or the aiding, abetting, inciting, coercing, or compelling thereof."

The Kentucky Civil Rights Act specifically covers employment discrimination on the basis of familial status, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, and disability.

Filing A Complaint

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights investigates complaints filed with it free of charge. Complaints under state law must be filed within 180 days of the date you became aware you were being discriminated against or the date of the alleged illegal act. You may file a complaint with the Commission by visiting the office, calling, or e-mailing ( The Commission can be reached at (502) 595-4024 or 1-800-292-5566. You must complete a complaint form, which asks you for basic information about yourself, the employer, and the incident. The complaint form may be submitted online.

For the complaint to be officially filed, you must use an approved complaint form and have it sworn in front of a notary public. An enforcement officer will be assigned to your case, who will act as a neutral decision-maker to determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe you have been discriminated against and your rights violated.

If reasonable cause is found, you and your employer will be required to attempt to negotiate a settlement through conciliation. If settlement negotiations fail, a public hearing will be held. A staff attorney at the Commission will present the case at the administrative hearing. You will not have to incur any legal expenses or other costs, as you would have to pay in a court case, unless you hire your own private attorney.

You may decide to go through the federal or state court process instead of the Commission’s investigative process. You must first file with the EEOC and request a Notice of Right to Sue letter in order to file in federal court. However, there is no "exhaustion" requirement to file in state court, which means that you can file directly in state court without going through the Kentucky Commission. The attorney you hire will explain this process to you.

Many Kentucky attorneys choose to file employment discrimination cases in state court under state law. However, most cases may be brought in either state or federal court. State law does not limit or cap the compensatory (emotional pain and suffering) damages or punitive damages recoverable for a discrimination claim that are capped under federal law.

For more information and a more detailed explanation of the complaint process, please visit theKentucky Commission on Human Rights website.