State Law: Lousiana


The Law

The Louisiana statutes against discrimination, LSA 51:2231 et seq. amended and 23:301 et seq., make it illegal for an employer or labor organization to discriminate against someone on the basis of sex.

The Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law (23.301 et seq.) defines an "employer" as "a person, association, legal or commercial entity, the state, or any state agency, board, commission, or political subdivision of the state receiving services from an employee and, in return, giving compensation of any kind to an employee. The provisions of this Chapter shall apply only to an employer who employs twenty or more employees within this state for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. 'Employer' shall also include an insurer, as defined in R.S. 22:5, with respect to appointment of agents, regardless of the character of the agent's employment. This Chapter shall not apply to the following:

  1. Employment of an individual by a parent, spouse, or child or to employment in the domestic service of the employer.
  2. Employment of an individual by a private educational or religious institution or any nonprofit corporation, or the employment by a school, college, university, or other educational institution or institution of learning of persons having a particular religion if the school, college, university, or other educational institution or institution of learning is, in whole or in substantial part, owned, supported, controlled, or managed by a particular religion or by a particular religious corporation, association, or society, or if the curriculum of the school, college, university, other educational institution, or institution of learning is directed toward the propagation of a particular religion."

Thus, the Louisiana statute against discrimination in the workplace applies only to employers with 20 or more employees for complaints filed under race, color, sex, national origin, religion and disability. The employer must have 25 or more employees for employment discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions. This is a higher requirement than federal law, since Title VII applies to employers with 15+ employees.

Louisiana law specifically covers employment discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and age.

Filing A Complaint

The Louisiana 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 or calling (225) 342-6969. The Commission is located at 1001 N. 23rd St., Suite 262; Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802.

Once you file a complaint with the Commission, the Commission will send your employer a letter and a copy of your complaint, stating that you believe you were/are being discriminated against. The employer will have an opportunity to respond to this complaint.

An investigator 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 a conciliation conference. One year after the conciliation, the Commission may investigate whether the employer has complied with the terms of the agreement. If conciliation is unsuccessful, the Commission may decide to pursue the claim in court on behalf of the state. The parties may agree to submit to binding and voluntary arbitration any time after the complaint is filed. The cost of the arbitration is shared by the two parties, unless the Commission decides otherwise.

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. Louisiana does not have an "exhaustion" requirement, which means that it is not necessary to file with the Louisiana Commission before filing suit in state court. The attorney you hire will explain this process to you.

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